Former Mayor of Miami Maurice Ferre announced his bid for the Democratic nomination in Florida's open U.S. Senate race this morning. Ferre, a native of Puerto Rico, is expected to make Florida's sizable Hispanic community a centerpiece of his campaign.
The 74 year-old was first elected to run Florida's largest city in 1973, becoming the first Puerto Rican to get the job. He served six terms before being defeated in 1985. He's been out of public office since 1996, and the last time he won a race of 1993. Since that time, Ferre lost three successive bids for Miami-Dade county mayor, the last coming in 2004.
When he first started talking about running for the Senate back in early Sept., Ferre said he was troubled that the retirement of Sen. Mel Martinez (R) meant a loss of political power for Hispanics in the Florida, and state activists hoped a Ferre bid could keep their population in the spotlight.
Of course, the race -- which also includes Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) -- already has a Hispanic candidate in former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban descent. But Hispanics in the state were disappointed with Rubio when he came out against the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor over the summer.
Ferre has a uphill climb if he wants to be competitive in the Dem nomination fight. Meek has been a successful fundraiser and has locked up the endorsements of unions and key national Democrats, including Bill Clinton.
In past conversations, Meek officials have suggested Ferre's candidacy doesn't indicate that Hispanics could be trouble for the Rep., claiming that Meek's relationship with the important Florida demographic group is 'excellent.' They suggest that though Ferre is well-regarded, his candidacy for the nomination is less-than-serious and they don't anticipating it putting a dent in Meek's march toward the nomination next year.