Lowe endorses Meek for Senate

The Democrat is firmly against offshore drilling.


Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 12:33 a.m.

The day after Florida’s U.S. Senate race officially became a three-for-all, Democratic candidate Congressman Kendrick Meek hit Gainesville on a campaign stop.

While not taking the August primary for granted, Meek said Gov. Charlie Crist’s exodus from the Republican Party to run as an independent should benefit his campaign.

Instead of the intense focus through August on a heated GOP contest between Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the attention immediately switches to the three-person general election, Meek said.

“Obviously any news organization worth their salt is going to have to mention my candidacy now,” Meek said.

But heightened name recognition brings its challenges. For one thing, Meek has to keep up in the fundraising battle and start advertising for the the general election sooner than first expected.

“We’ve kept our powder dry,” Meek said. “Some folks have said, ‘Kendrick, we don’t see you on television.’ They’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television advertising. We haven’t even had a 15-second radio ad yet. I can tell you that will start sooner than later.”

Through the latest campaign reporting period, Crist has more than $10 million in requests from Republicans to give money back. Rubio has raised $7 million and Meek $5.7 million, according to opensecrets.com.

Meek said the three-way race might change the dynamics but it will not affect his political platform.

“I feel this race really comes down to me running against two Republicans in the general election,” Meek said. “Just because the governor called a press conference to say he now has no party affiliation, doesn’t mean he is not really a Republican ... you don’t just turn on a dime.”

Speaking in front of Gainesville City Hall, where he received an endorsement from Mayor-elect Craig Lowe, Meek pointed to the oil spill now spreading in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential environmental impact on Florida’s west coast.

Meek then said that he is the only candidate in the race who has not backed down from his opposition to offshore drilling. Crist wavered in his opposition but reaffirmed it after the spill.

Besides Lowe, County Commission Chairman Cynthia Chestnut, current Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, School Board member Eileen Roy and Gainesville city commissioners Thomas Hawkins and Jeanna Mastrodicasa also attended Meek’s appearance.

Meek said he has strong ties to Gainesville. He served with Chestnut in the Florida Legislature — and stopped through the traditional Democratic stronghold at the outset of his campaign.

“Gainesville is going be very important to me in this three-way race,” Meek said.

Meek’s mother, Carrie Meek, served 14 years in the Florida Legislature and five terms in the U.S. House. When Carrie Meek retired, her son was elected to succeed her as the representative for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, which includes parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Meek has served in Congress since 2003. Prior to that, he served in the Florida House and Florida Senate.

Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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