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Maurice Ferre calls himself a Senate candidate

The worst-kept secret is out: Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre is announcing tomorrow via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube video, and old-fashioned press release that he is challenging Kendrick Meek for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Ferre, who is Puerto Rican, is hoping to appeal to the estimated half a million Hispanic Democrats in Florida. He's hired a Hispanic political strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, Freddy Balsera, as his communications consultant. "How many Democrats are received with open arms on Radio Mambi?''  Balsera asked. "This primary is not locked up."

Here's a draft of his statement Download Maurice Ferre For U S Senate release -Final, which shows the 74-year-old Ferre's challenge: reinforcing his decades of political experience while portraying himself as a fresh-faced candidate.

He says, "My purpose in the United States Senate will be to look to Florida's future. My campaign will not be about what I learned yesterday but rather the opportunities of tomorrow."  But he adds: "Job creation, economic stimulus and small business growth aren't just things that I talk about, they are things that I have done.  And, they are precisely what we need right now.  I have led during moments of turmoil before and am ready to be the strong voice that Florida in Washington to pull us out of the crisis that we are living right now."