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Meet the nine running for Kendrick Meek's seat

The crowded race to replace Kendrick Meek is about more than winning a rare open seat to Congress.

With election to the district that stretches from Overtown to Pembroke Pines comes the almost deified title of being the voice of South Florida's black communities in Washington, a position that entails being equal parts role model, cheerleader and breadwinner for some of Miami-Dade County's poorest areas.

That political mantle has been carried for nearly two decades by Meek or his mother, Carrie, who made history as one of Florida's first black members of Congress since Reconstruction when she was elected to the newly redrawn district in 1992.

Now her son seeks his own place in history by seeking to become Florida's first black U.S. senator. And 10 people with pent-up political ambitions from the Meek years have packed the field to replace him.

``This is the first time that you've had an open seat without a legendary figure waiting in the wings,'' said Fernand Amandi, managing partner of Bendixen & Amandi, a Coral Gables-based political consulting firm.

Nine Democrats will face off in the Aug. 24 primary and, with the national party spending money to hold on to the seat, will be favored to win the general election in November against lawyer Roderick Vereen, who is running without party affiliation. Full story, with short profiles of the candidates, here.