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Hastings: Dear Democrats, vote for Meek or else

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings' office just released this letter addressed to Florida voters:

The funny thing about conventional wisdom in an election year is that it only lasts until the voters decide it is no longer conventional or wise.  The media tells us that Congressman Kendrick Meek cannot win the Senate, that Democrats and independents will split their votes with Governor Charlie Crist, and, in the end, that Marco Rubio will be Florida’s next senator.  But politics is about self-determination and, if Democrats determine to rally themselves behind Congressman Meek, this election will suddenly be about real choice – not electoral mathematics.

There is only one Democrat in this race.  Kendrick Meek has been faithfully serving his South Florida constituents in Congress, bringing much-needed federal dollars to his district and demonstrating progressive leadership on issues ranging from job creation and economic development to United States support for Haiti’s recovery.   Governor Crist is no Democrat, despite what many Democrats want to tell themselves.   Governor Crist may be an independent for the purposes of this campaign, but he whole-heartedly supports the right-wing agenda, from preserving Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to opposing President Obama’s health care reforms that benefit millions of Floridians across the state.

I understand the temptation for Democrats to hang on to Governor Crist in the hope that he will eke out a win against Rubio.  At least, that is what the conventional wisdom says.  But what if we ignore the talk show certainties and instead create our own reality by rallying around the one true Democrat, Kendrick Meek?  Polls show that combining support for both Crist and Meek would add up to over 50 percent, handily beating Rubio.   Just by switching their allegiance from Crist to Meek, Democrats would suddenly make this campaign very competitive – and very uncomfortable for Rubio.

But here is one bit of conventional wisdom I do agree with: if Democrats insist on stubbornly clinging to Crist, Marco Rubio will indeed win the election.   Floridians are well acquainted with what happens when a few crucial voters support a long-shot third party candidate.  So don’t settle for Crist; what he offers is only a slightly warmed-over version of Rubio’s Tea Party brand of politics.  It is essential for Democrats to stand together united to support the candidate who represents the clearest alternative to Marco Rubio.  The only real candidate of progress in this election is Democrat Kendrick Meek.  I hope that he can count on your vote.