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Crist canceled, so Miami builders booked Meek

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was supposed to be the keynote speaker at tomorrow's meeting of the Latin Builders Association, an influential, Republican-leaning group known for hosting statewide and even presidential candidates.

About one month ago, his staff confirmed the date. Two weeks later, they canceled.

So what did the leaders of the Latin Builders Association do?  They booked Crist's potential opponent in the 2010 general election for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Kendrick Meek.

Hours after the Miami congressman agreed to come, Crist's staff called the builders group back. Is there any way we can work this out?

"Obviously, our response was that we had offered the appearance to another speaker and couldn't back out,'' said LBA president Anthony Seijas.  Asked if he would hold the governor's cancellation against him, Seijas said, "The governor has been a friend in the past to the association...You can't let one instance taint the relationship."

But privately, some members are fuming, especially in light of Crist's recent opposition to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court.

Crist's spokeswoman, Erin Isaac, said the governor canceled because of a conflict with the Florida Association of Realtors meeting in Orlando. She added that the builders group had initially offered Crist several dates to choose from.

"When this date didn't work out, we canceled with the assumption that we could always do one of the other dates,'' Isaac said. "It's an important group and the governor looks forward to addressing them."