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Time: How Florida’s forgotten Democrat could win the Senate race

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From Time Magazine: It’s only June, but Florida’s three-way U.S. Senate contest is already shaping up as a race to remember. It will have Republican Marco Rubio, the young and formerly unsung conservative who is now widely viewed as the Barack Obama of the tea party movement. It will have Governor Charlie Crist, the former Republican shoo-in who fled the GOP to run as an independent after it became clear that Rubio was cleaning his clock. And it will have … a Democrat.

That’s likely to be Congressman Kendrick Meek, although he still faces an expensive primary against a billionaire carpetbagger. He’s actually glad about that, because it might bring the forgotten candidate some much-needed attention. “If nothing else, it will remind people there’s a Democrat in this race,” Meek told me at a restaurant where he had been scheduled to meet with local journalists from the Caribbean community, only two of whom showed up.(See 10 races that have Democrats worried for 2010.)

That’s the kind of thing you’d expect a Democrat to say when he’s buried in third place, consistently polling below 20%. But it also happens to be true. Though 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; an Obama supporter running against two Obama foes in a state that supported Obama; and a consistent offshore drilling opponent running against a drill-baby-drill guy and a petroleum flip-flopper in a state with lovely white-sand beaches now threatened by the spill in the Gulf. Continue reading here.

A couple of other good anedotes from the article:

Crist, who is now racing to the left to try to siphon away Democratic votes. The governor spent most of the last year trying unsuccessfully to impersonate a committed Obama-trashing, Reagan-worshipping conservative Republican, doing his best to deny his previous support for Obama’s stimulus bill and downplaying his previous support for cap-and-trade and other aggressive actions against global warming. Now he’s trying to re-reinvent himself, going so far as to pursue the AFL-CIO endorsement for the first time in his long career (Meek ultimately got it). Crist is a sweet guy and an underrated governor, especially on environmental issues, but his recent ideological contortions have been dizzying: vetoing a school reform bill he once supported, backing Elena Kagan’s nomination after opposing Sotomayor for no plausible, non-political reason, saying he saw no reason to change the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on a Monday and then saying he was “inclined” to support repeal that Thursday. As Meek pointed out in one of his less subtle shots at Crist, at least Specter admitted he was changing his stripes to try to win an election.

And:

Meek acknowledged that while driving my car from the restaurant to another condo event. (Ever the trooper, the first thing he did after squeezing into my driver’s seat was remove the old parking stubs from my dashboard; he explained that their reflection in the windshield could impair visibility.) A few minutes later, he passed a beaten-up Grand Marquis, with a bungee cord holding together a mutilated bumper emblazoned with a Rubio for Senate sticker. “How on earth could that guy have a Rubio sticker on his car?” Meek joked. But then he turned serious: “Look, the right has made its decision. The left is going to make its decision in the fall. And they’re going to know who’s been with them all the way.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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