And Then There Was One: Meek no more

6 01 2009

EDITORS NOTE: THIS PIECE WAS WRITTEN HOURS BEFORE JEB BUSH ANNOUNCED HIS NON CANDIDACY FOR THE SENATE IN 2010

By J. Scott Gaillard

January 6, 2009

Since U.S. Senator Mel Martinez announced his retirement there has been a flurry of speculation about his possible successors, but no formal announcements.  On the Republican side, all potential candidates are overshadowed by former Governor Jeb Bush.  Although Bush has made no official announcement, he has expressed an interest and now seems all but certain to enter the race.

A bevy of potential nominees have been mentioned on the Democratic side, but no clear favorite has emerged.  It appears leading Democrats across the state are intimidated by the prospect of facing Jeb Bush.  Potential candidates are well aware of the drubbings he dealt out to Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay in 1998 (55% to 44%) and Bill McBride in 2002 (56% to 43%).

The exception is U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek.  Meek begins his forth term today as the Democratic member of Congress from the Miami area.  In announcing his interest in the seat, Meek has gone out of his way to announce that he has no concerns about taking on the Bush machine, specifically stating his lack of, “intimidation or fear.”

“Hey Buddy, You’re a Liberal”

But is Florida ready to elect another liberal to the United States Senate?  For a sense of history, Florida has not elected a genuine liberal to the U.S. Senate since Claude Pepper’s election in 1944.

In addition, many Democrats are still haunted by the successful “liberal” bashing campaign of Republican Connie Mack against moderate Democrat, Buddy MacKay in 1988.  MacKay, an air force veteran from rural Central Florida, was a strong fiscal conservative and death penalty proponent.  Mack’s narrow election was sealed by a steady rotation of commercials that proclaimed, “Hey Buddy, you’re a liberal.”

If Floridians were willing to believe MacKay was a liberal how difficult will for Meek to eschew the liberal moniker that is sure to follow him?  After all, Meek is an African-American from Miami, who in 2007 received 100% ratings from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The MacKay/Mack election was 20 years ago and the state has changed dramatically in this time.  However, is a state that elected Jeb Bush twice as Governor, now ready to reject him for a liberal member of Congress from South Florida?

“Liberal” Death Knell?

Congressman Meek is betting it will.  Meek is buoyed by the 2008 Presidential election returns and Senator Barack Obama’s victory in Florida by some 230,000 votes.  It is notable that in 2007 the National Journal listed Sen. Obama as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

He is also counting on holding Bush responsible for the economic downturn Florida is currently facing.  Florida’s unemployment is worse than the national average, the state government is more than $2 billion in arrears and Forbes has predicted that Jacksonville will be the foreclosure capital of the country in 2009.

In addition, Meek claims that Bush is more interested in using the U.S. Senate seat as a national political platform, rather than an office to represent Floridians.  These concerns were recently amplified when George Herbert Walker Bush (’41) suggested to Fox News that Jeb would make an ideal President.

Next…

This race is a long way from over.  In fact it hasn’t officially started.  Meek has made a bold first move, but it remains to be seen if he can convince Democratic primary voters he is the strongest candidate to take out Jeb!

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7 responses

6 01 2009
Anonymous

Meek would be a disaster.

How can we elect an African-American liberal statewide?

Worse yet he’s from Miami which is the absolute worst place for a statewide liberal to originate from.

Remember Robert King High?

I don’t like the idea of Dan Gelber either. Another Miami ethnic liberal. Silly names like Robert Wexler make no sense either.

Alex Sink is a good choice as would be Alan Boyd or even Charlie Justice.

We need to win the seat not score ideological points. With a person like Al Franken in the Senate the Democrats will be enough marginazlized. We don’t need another rabel rouser to hurt the party particularly here in Florida.

Another note: In the few days this website has been around it has provided interesting content but is clearly trying to pull the Democratic Party to the left and that is something we cannot afford.

6 01 2009
J.V.R.

Meek is a rock star, and rock stars often times trump ideology in big elections. I think he is the most electable Democrat in the state because of this.

He put his force of personality behind the class size amendment and it passed while Bush was being re-elected.

You seem to cast doubt on his electability in his piece, but he is a rock star and will make the race against Bush a referendum on the Bush years. No other Democrat can be counted on to do that.

6 01 2009
kkfla737

Worse yet he’s from Miami which is the absolute worst place for a statewide liberal to originate from.

Remember Robert King High?

Remember Bob Graham, Bruce Smathers or Gerald Lewis?

I don’t like the idea of Dan Gelber either. Another Miami ethnic liberal. Silly names like Robert Wexler make no sense either.

Anonymous, is this meant to be code language or just an innocent mistake?

We need to win the seat not score ideological points. With a person like Al Franken in the Senate the Democrats will be enough marginazlized.

Given your above comment, the naming of Franken in particular instead of any number of liberal non-Jewish or African American names that come to mind is suspicious.

Alex Sink is a good choice as would be Alan Boyd or even Charlie Justice.

Sink and Justice, yes, Boyd no. Boyd would get killed up and down the I-4 corridor. He’d be even less sell able in Orange, Osceola and Pinellas than in south Florida. He’d do okay in Polk and maybe in Volusia but that won’t trump his failings in the other counties.

Another note: In the few days this website has been around it has provided interesting content but is clearly trying to pull the Democratic Party to the left and that is something we cannot afford.

Liberal and Conservative are dated ideological terms. On many issues I am more conservative than the majority of Republicans. Our editorials and articles reflect our interest in making state government work again and honoring the legacy of the great leaders and visionaries this state has benefited from like LeRoy Collins, Bob Graham, Lawton Chiles and Rueben Askew among others.

6 01 2009
Caribou Barbie fan

Anonymous sounds just like every other Republican conservative using code for blacks and jews. We need to educate people like anonymous on the fact that the major donor counties in this state are where the majority of african americans and jews live. If their money is good enough to fund this state, why aren’t their elected leaders?

6 01 2009
kkfla737

Jeb Bush is not running for the Senate per his announcement this afternoon.

Now the question is who will be the GOP front runner.

9 01 2009
dccoulthard

The problem that the FDP has is that they are too north-and-south heavy. They do a great job recruiting candidates in South Florida (which usually win) and in North Florida (which usually lose).

They need to start recruiting quality candidates in Central Florida. They have yet to do this. The FDP usually waits until the deadline, find a candidate, usually one that isn’t qualified and has no community or business contacts whatsoever, and run them.

Democrats can pick up a number of seats. Honestly, I think the Florida House is in reach. But the lack to serious recruiting will continue to hurt the Democrats.

Still, as far as this Senate seat, I really don’t see any quality candidates that can run. We can bring up some names from the past, like Alex Penelas and Peter Rudy Wallace, but I don’t know how they would fare statewide, again.

9 01 2009
coffee

the crazy thing is that a lot of people would actually vote for Jeb Bush (the brother of George W)

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