September 04, 2012

Sorry, Charlie? Kendrick Meek (gov. candidate in 14?) won't tamp down talk of a rematch.

Former Congressman Kendrick Meek is no Charlie Crist fan.

When the former governor decided to run for Senate, he ultimately left the Republican Party but stayed in the race, all but ensuring a win for Marco Rubio in 2010. That helped syphon votes from the Democrat in the race, Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek.

Crist allies leaked word that Meek was being pressured by top Democrats like Bill Clinton to leave the race. That hurt even more.

Now Crist is on the precipice of running for governor again, in 2014, as a Democrat. And Meek might want a little payback.

Sure, President Obama's campaign is giddy over Crist because he's scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention to drive home the idea that the GOP is too extreme. But Florida Democrats aren't pleased. Among them: Meek.

When asked what he thought of Crist at the convention, Meek smiled and essentially refused to comment.

"I'm not in charge," he said. "I'm going to go get my credentials (for the convention)."

When asked if he'd run for governor against Crist, he smiled: "I'm going to get my credentials."

That would be bad news for Crist, who has goodwill among African-American voters and the teachers union. So does Meek. He's the son of black-community icon and former Congresswoman Carrie Meek. And he repeatedly took on former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush over education initiatives that Crist backed and that the union opposed.

January 26, 2011

Frederica Wilson calls on the Obama administration to stop deporting Haitians

The Miami Democrat and the American Civil Liberties Union are calling on the White House to stop deporting Haitians until their safety and freedom can be guaranteed.

"Current political instability, widespread human rights abuses, and the cholera outbreak make conditions on the ground too risky for Haitians to return safely,"Wilson said. "I urge the Administration to do the right thing and halt deportations at this time."

Wilson and the ACLU in December had asked the administration to continue the suspension of deportation of Haitians in light of human rights and humanitarian concerns and the "raging cholera epidemic that has taken hold in that country."   

December 09, 2010

Big name GOP'ers to help Marco Rubio retire debt

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Texas Republican John Cornyn and GOP lobbyist and John McCain advisor Charlie Black will be among those attending a Capitol Hill fundraiser tonight to help incoming Senate star Marco Rubio retire some of his campaign debt.

The campaign -- which took in more than $18 million -- still owes more than $700,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Rubio led his rivals handily in most polls for much of the three-way race, but spokesman Alex Burgos said the money gap was the "closing costs of campaign expenses incurred to ensure victory down the stretch.

"We made investments to win the election and these investments paid off," Burgos said. "We never took anything for granted in one of the wildest, most unpredictable races of 2010." The race, one recalls, featured an 11th hour surprise with reports that former President Bill Clinton suggested Kendrick Meek get out of the race so that Charlie Crist could take the seat.

Other members are hosting similar debt retirement parties: Indiana Republican Dan Coates has one tonight as well.

December 02, 2010

How Florida voted on the Charles Rangel censure

The House just voted to censure New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel for financial and fundraising misconduct.

The vote was 333-79. It was only the 23rd time that the House has invoked its most serious punishment short of expulsion. The solemn procedure will force Rangel to appear at the front of the chamber while
Speaker Nancy Pelosi reads the censure resolution.

Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kathy Castor and Ron Klein voted for censure. Orlando Democrat Alan Grayson and Jacksonville Democrat Corrine Brown voted against it. Most Florida Republicans voted for it; three missed the vote, as did Democrats Kendrick Meek and Alcee Hastings.

November 02, 2010

Kendrick Meek's concession speech

Rep. Kendrick Meek gave a composed concession speech to Republican wunderkind Marco Rubio in front of an anemic crowd of 100 supporters at the Rusty Pelican on Virginia Key.

Appearing alongside his mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, his sister, wife and two kids, Meek congratulated the incoming senator for attaining a victory that he said "no one could foresee a few years ago."

"From some who came from the outside to come inside to take the type of commanding lead he had a month ago is to be commended,'' Meek said.

Meek also said he had "charitable words" with Gov. Charlie Crist, whose decision to run as an independent likely grabbed voters who would have otherwise voted for Crist.

"The governor and I didn't see eye-to-eye,'' he said. "In fact, I think he did bring about some confusion about where he stood [on issues]. But this campaign is over. The people have spoken."

Meek said he hasn't given much thought to what he''ll do next - aside from fishing and spending time with his family. The campaign was tough to win in this political climate, he said, given the anti-Incumbent, red tide sweeping across the country's political landscape.

"I feel that we put on the best race we could in these circumstances,'' Meek said, adding that "Rubio achieved a  "victory we did not see a couple years ago."


November 01, 2010

In Miami, Crist trying to convert Meek supporters

At stops, Gov. Charlie Crist is subtlety suggesting to Kendrick Meek supporters that Crist is better positioned to overtake Rubio. In Miami, Meek's hometown, Crist was more pointed. Rather than reminding Floridians to make their vote count, Crist said "I'm the only one who can defeat Marco. There's no doubt in my mind."

When reporters said Marco Rubio was accusing Crist of deal-making to get Meek out of the race, Crist pivoted. "Rubio actually made deals," Crist said, noting that Rubio secured extra funding for Florida International University and later took a teaching position there.

In Miami, Crist met up with one of his more prominent Democrat supporters, state Rep. Yolly Roberson. "This is a battle between good and evil," said Roberson, casting a stark contrast between Crist and Rubio. "In my dreams, good prevails." Added state Rep. Luis Garcia: "Charlie Crist is the best man for the job."

Another poll shows Sink leading by a hair

Public Policy Polling: The Florida Governor's race is too close to call as the election enters its final two days. Alex Sink leads Rick Scott by just a single point at 48-47. Scott has gained over the last three weeks among conservative leaning voters who don't like him but have decided they don't dislike him enough to let a Democrat win.

If Scott does manage to pull it out he'll probably be the country's most unpopular newly elected Governor. Only 34% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him while 54% see him in a negative light. But Republican inclined voters are ultimately putting politics over personality and that's allowed Scott to make gains since our last poll.

Some have wondered, given how closely Scott is polling, if Bill McCollum would have been a shoo in had he been the Republican nominee. He may have had less baggage than McCollum but he doesn't poll any differently, trailing Sink 46-45 in a hypothetical match.

The topline numbers in the Senate race are not all that interesting - Marco Rubio is headed for an easy victory as he has been ever since the primary with 47% to 30% for Charlie Crist and 21% Kendrick Meek.

The most interesting number within the poll, even though it's not translating into extra voters, is Meek's favorability. In early October 35% of voters in the state said they had a positive opinion of Meek to 37% with a negative one. That's shot up now to 42% favorable and 32% unfavorable in just a few weeks time. Voters have responded positively to how Meek has conducted himself through all the speculation about whether he would or would not bring his campaign to a halt.

All the drama over whether Meek would drop out of the race might have been pretty pointless anyway. In a hypothetical head to head match up with Rubio Crist trails by a 48-44 margin. He may very well have lost even if Meek had pulled out.

Crist's political future after what is likely to be a pretty crushing loss tomorrow looks murky. Only 17% of voters in the state say they would definitely support him if he were to seek political office again in the future. That's not a particularly strong base of support and more than twice as many voters as that- 39%- say there's no way they'd vote for Crist in a future campaign. 43% are noncommittal on Crist's future.

October 31, 2010

Altar call for Kendrick Meek

Img00080-20101031-0836 (2) At Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in struggling Liberty City, where he was baptized as a child, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was summoned to the altar.

Kendrick Meek and his mother, 84-year-old Carrie Meek, stepped gingerly out of the second pew and sat down in two chairs placed in the center aisle, just in front of the simple altar. The 200 or so congregants clustered  around them, holding hands and singing "We've Come This Far By Faith.''

It was an emotional homecoming for Meek, who, according to every single poll, is expected to come in third place in Tuesday's election. He is the only major black Senate candidate in the country, and pastor George McRae reminded the black congregants of the time not so long ago when they couldn't even vote.

"Many times we live in the moment, but I don't want to miss the significance of this, the first time in the state of Florida there's been a candidate such as I who carries the perspective of people of struggle,'' Meek said. "My heart is full this morning as we continue to march on to victory."

Later this morning, outside Christ Way Baptist Church in Miramar, Meek called reports that former President Bill Clinton had urged him to bow out a "very unfortunate thing.'' As if to personally stomp the story out, Clinton made a last-minute offer yesterday to join Meek and gubernatorial Alex Sink at a rally tomorrow night in Orlando.

"His back is going to help me, it's going to help Alex Sink and other state candidates,'' Meek said.

October 30, 2010

Meek jokes that Rubio should drop out

It was billed as a rally, but Meek's appearance Saturday at a Broward County early voting site was more of a parking lot press conference, ringed by a bunch of volunteers for other campaigns. Only a handful of people appeared to be there solely to support Meek, though a few people joined the fray after voting at Wilton Manors City Hall.

Saturday was the last day to vote early in Broward, the state's Democratic stronghold. "We want to make sure everyone lives, sleeps and breathes turning out the vote,'' said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston.

Hoarse but upbeat, Meek described a series of phone calls he received from Gov. Charlie Crist earlier this week,  including one before 5 in the morning. "I lost count....The congresswoman said he called her too. Anyone else get a call?'' he asked, turning to the crowd. "There's a level of desperation there. I think it's wrong to try to paint me into a corner and say I'm the reason why he's not winning...There are no guarantees whatsoever, if the governor was to get out of this race or I got out of this race or Marco Rubio got out of the race -- which would be a great idea,'' Meek joked. 

He added: "If anything came out of this whole experience, people know that I with them in the final analysis. I am the Dem. I will  never sell out on them. I will never leave them behind."

Meek is scheduled to visit three three South Florida churches Sunday morning before flying to Tampa to begin a 24-hour, stopping-only-for-gas campaign spree.

October 29, 2010

Kendrick Meek: I dedicate this day

Kendrick Meek said he scrapped most of his plans today to "dedicate this day to clear the record" -- that Bill Clinton never tried to push him out of the race.

Meek told a gaggle of reporters late Friday afternoon in Miami -- between TV interviews -- that he and Clinton chatted about "these rumors" that he'd quit the race. "I told him, 'Mr. President, I'm not dropping out of this race.'  I told him I have faith in the people of Florida."

"We talked about the politics of winning...I told him the decision is already made, this is what I'm doing."

Meek also told reporters that he fielded an unusual call the other day -- a 5 a.m. wakeup from Gov. Charlie Crist -- who he's blaming for the Clinton call confusion.