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Meek tries to beat back Crist-Reid chatter

By Felicia Sonmez

Rep. Kendrick Meek's (D-Fla.) appearance at Tuesday's Senate Democratic caucus luncheon had been on the schedule for a month.

It was a stroke of bad luck, then, that on the morning of Meek's appearance, the Wall Street Journal published an interview with one of Meek's rivals, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), in which Crist revealed that he's spoken with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) by phone twice over the past several weeks.

Crist, who has been making overtures to Florida Democrats in his bid to become the state's next senator, did not indicate whether he and Reid discussed the possibility that he might caucus with Senate Democrats should he get elected.

In an interview with The Fix shortly after he gave his five-minute address to Senate Democrats, Meek said that he hadn't asked Reid about his conversations with Crist, but charged that the governor "is trying to put a perception out that he has an ongoing working relationship with the Leader." He added that given that Crist is a sitting governor, it's only natural that the leader of the Senate would respond if he calls.

"But if the governor is making it a part of his political campaign strategy," Meek added, "I think that's inappropriate and I don't think that reflects well on the governor." The four-term Democrat also pointed to Reid's support for his bid, noting that the majority leader has maxed out in contributions and "has made a number of charitable comments" about his campaign.

Reid, for his part, said in a press conference several hours after the luncheon that he'd only "placed one call to Governor Crist," and "that conversation was several months ago." Reid said he hadn't asked Crist whether he'd caucus with Senate Democrats, and that the conversation was focused on issues related to Florida -- the "third-most populous state in the country."

The Crist caucusing issue aside -- and it's a major issue to put aside -- Meek insisted that he feels good about where he stands in advance of the state's Aug. 24 primary against billionaire Jeff Greene.

The Congressman said he told Senate Democrats that recent polling shows more voters now view Greene unfavorably than favorably and that he is ahead in the race despite the fact that "I haven't even taken a 15-second radio ad out yet." (Greene has spent nearly $6 million of his own money -- primarily on television ads across the state.)

One untapped resource for Meek remains the White House's potential involvement in the race; the Wall Street Journal story quoted an unnamed White House official as saying that Vice President Biden plans to campaign for Meek soon.

Meek said that he learned of Biden's potential involvement in the race from the Wall Street Journal article but noted that he spoke with the White House "early on" about its involvement and that he's "definitely encouraged by seeing that it's on the vice president's dance card."

Meek has already benefited from a series of fundraisers and appearances from former President Bill Clinton -- payback for his work on behalf of then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign in 2008.

The central question for Meek -- assuming he wins the nomination -- is whether the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (or some other outside organization aligned with Democrats) commits to spending on ads in the state.

That's a multi-million dollar proposition and given the current state of play, national Democrats may be stretched too thin to make a go of it for Meek.

By The Fix  |  July 20, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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I don't think there is a limit for Charlie Crist and trying to win this race. He is obviously hoping Democrats and Independents take him over the top, as Rubio clearly has the Republicans behind him. I think Meek may be in trouble in the D primary, but will likely pull it out against Greene. Meek is in deep trouble as I think this race is between Crist & Rubio. Rubio has raised lots of money and Republicans are going to target this race to spend to win. Crist has about $8 million so he will have the money to compete to win, plust use the governor's perch as a campaign he did with the Reid deal. That may hurt him with Independents, however. Or, it may make Crist look better that he's trying to get things done for Florida. Either way, it siphons Democratic votes and loses any Republican votes that he may get to Rubio. This is a fascinating 3 person race in which the Independent & Republican are legite but the Democrats are not in this one. Interesting race to watch. It will get uglier as it goes on: a political junkies dream!

Posted by: reason5 | July 21, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Meek is the perfect name for this candidate. This race is way over his head.

If we Dems in Florida arent smart, we will hand over this vitally important Senate seat to one of Jeb's shoe shiners.

Meek is weak! Step up Democratic Floridians. Get your "Caucus with Charlie" buttons!

Posted by: Suwannee1 | July 21, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Wjile I agree with Marie Wilson's main point, this was a nice piece on political maneuvering. Crist is giving a lesson on how to position yourself and possibly win in a losingsituation. Of course he's going to let it be known that he has talked to Reid. The votes that Crist can pick up right now are Democrats and Independents who have not seen any compelling reason to vote for Meek.

I'm very disatisfied with Meek. He has had his previous offices handed to him and he does not seem to know that he needed to start campaigning a year ago. He could have been using his position on the Hill to raise his profile, sponsor some good legislation, make some money buddies and shine a little, please. Instead he seemed to be avoiding attention until this Spring. He still isn't making the appearance, or raising the money, he needs to if he wants to win. At this point he deserves to lose voters to Crist.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 20, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to partially reverse myself on Shirley Sherrod.

I never said she should be fired - I just said that there should be an Independent Investigation of the Obama people who hired her.

But now it came out that the actual incident has not been as a government employee under Obama - in fact she was with a non-profit 24 years ago when this incident happened.

Also, the wife of the white farmer also called into the CNN to verify the whole story that her recounting of the story was not one of discrimination but racial harmony.

The farmer's wife endorsed Shirley Sherrod.

So - I do NOT believe that Shirley Sherrod should have to resign - she should get her job back.

HOWEVER, it is important to point out that the NAACP has raised the RACIAL tensions this week - and OBAMA HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT IT.

The democrats are pushing race as a means to energize their base ahead of the November elections.

These tactics are OUTSIDE the bounds of American politics.

The democrats on this board have been silent on this issue.

Obama is doing this - Obama is at fault.

This woman lost her job because of the racially charged atmosphere - that is not right.

This is NOT the atmosphere promised by Obama when he said POST RACIAL HUNDREDS OF TIMES -

Clearly, it is wrong for Obama to use race in American politics -

Especially when we had promises from Obama NOT to use race - to be post-racial.


So, I hold to that part of the arguments.


Posted by: YouCanPostThis | July 20, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'd welcome both Meeks and Crist to the Democratic caucus, and I hpe we can get both at some point. Both are effing smart, thinking men who work tirelessly and do a great job representing Florida, regardless of party label.

I'm a white guy who always thinks it would be terrific to have a heck of a lot more people of color (and women) in the Senate, but this isn't about skin color -- both Meeks and Crist are great public servants.

I'm liberal so I prefer Meeks.

Posted by: paul65 | July 20, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I don't know, zouk, what did you do the afternoon after you were banned? You've had a lot more experience at that than I have, and it's always a good idea to consult the experts.

Posted by: Noacoler | July 20, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Poor lonely Ped.

Such an empty life.

What will you do all afternoon after you are banned?

I think it is safe to assume that only anonymous strangers will tolerate your hateful invective. But only for a short time, as you are discovering.

Posted by: Moonbat | July 20, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse


Slurs are against the rules - please comply.


Posted by: YouCanPostThis | July 20, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, teabaggers, for delivering another Senator to the Democratic Caucus. Without your greatly appreciated help Crist would have run as a Repubican.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Noacoler | July 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Meeks is really not in a bad position

Things could turn around for him.

If Rubio or Crist take a tumble, Meek will gain.

If Meek can pull up - Rubio and Crist will be working off each other.

Meek only needs about 37% to win. So if he somehow can rally his base - which is there, the numbers are there for Meek.


Posted by: YouCanPostThis | July 20, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

When you finally pick Dems to write about please try to avoid those that are DOA. Even, given that, where is all the self fawning stuff from the Meeks campaign that is present in all presentations of Republicans?

Posted by: mariewilson11 | July 20, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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