Time.com piece brings different perspective on Kendrick Meek's campaign

But there are two key sections of Grunwald's piece that really stand out.  The first as how quickly people dismiss him, or call him "liberal" (the Tampa Tribune's editorial page) when that's hardly the case:.


He's not well known, but he's working hard to build an organization — he's the first-ever statewide candidate to qualify for the ballot by petition — and he defies some antiquated stereotypes about black urban politicians. For instance, he's an avid sportsman, and once impressed the good ole boys with his crack shooting at a North Florida dove hunt. He's clearly comfortable in his political skin; he talked with pride about leading a statewide battle for smaller class sizes, fighting President Bush over Social Security privatization and supporting Obama's health care reform. He's basically a reliable Obama Democrat with a few Florida twists, like lockstep support for Israel and NASA, as well as some unorthodox votes to rein in the national debt.


We've written that Meek's biggest problem is that people - Democrats, especially - don't know enough about him.  That's why we wrote last week that he needs to take up challenger Jeff Greene's suggestion and have statewide debates with him (and the other Democrat in the race, Maurice Ferre, asap).


But Meek has his faults on the campaign trail, and Grunwald nicely summarizes some of them in this paragraph:


Meek inherited his seat from his mom, Carrie Meek, a sharecropper's daughter who taught school before becoming the first African American elected to Congress in Florida since Reconstruction; he's neither a natural politician nor a policy wonk. (His mother, now a lobbyist, also roped him into his first scandal of the campaign.) At an informational meeting at a condo complex here, he gave jargony, meandering and sometimes bewildering answers to softball questions about Medicare, earmarks and unemployment aid; in an interview, he mangled the name of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. An aide later pointed out that he's dyslexic, which struck me as the kind of defense a Senate candidate shouldn't need.


Grunwald refers to the recently reported situation involving a developer who Meek was trying to procure federal funds for who just happened to have Meek's mother on his payroll, a definite a mark against the candidate.  But in this Senate race, he's just joining his opponents who are also tainted  (there have been published reports that Marco Rubio is being investigated by the I.R.S., and over the weekend, Jim Greer's attorney pointed the finger at Charlie Crist, saying that the governor was fully aware that the former party chair was skimming Republican Party money for his own benefit).


Kendrick Meek has a long way to go certainly, but the fact is he still has nearly five months to get there.  It's up to him to prove to his fellow Democrats that he's worthy of their vote.  If he can do that, he'll fare much better than he's looking in the first week of June.





Regular readers of this blog know that we've written a lot about the Senate race, and why Kendrick Meek has yet to break out in any fashion, as he is now mired uncomfortably in third place in most polls behind Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.

When Crist left the Republican party and went independent at the end of April, we still contend it was one of the best things to happen for those who hope Meek will become the next U.S. Senator.

But in the short term, it's not been a good thing, as Crist (in polls) has swept up a chunk of Meek's natural constituency.

The question I still don't get very good answers to is when I speak with Democrats who seem enraptured by Charlie Crist, but when you dig deeper, only because they like him better than Rubio, and consistently contend that Meek "can't win".

Forget the fact that if they supported him, he might win.

On Friday, Time magazine journalist Michael Grunwald, best known in these parts for his epic 2006 book on the Everglades, The Swamp, visited Meek and gave his impressions of the Democratic front runner.  His first impression is an obvious one, as he writes, " Meek may look hopeless today, it's still strange to watch the pundits count out a Democrat running against divided Republican opposition in a Democratic-leaning state."

Strange indeed.

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