Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the Florida Senate race, is sitting back watching the fight between his two Republican rivals, Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio, insisting that the contest over which one is more right wing will help him in the general election. On a conference call with liberal bloggers just now, he may have added some fuel to the fire when he said that Rubio winning the GOP nomination would provide a clearer choice.
“I think there would be more clarity with a Rubio nomination out of the Republican primary, because he has made a number of statements that have place him in a position in that primary to attract the most conservative voters in the state of Florida,” said Meek, when asked by TPMDC how he might have altered his strategies since a year ago, as the nature of the GOP race has changed significantly.Back at the start of this race, Crist was widely assumed to be the eventual Republican nominee, compared to the current big lead that the more vocally conservative Rubio has in the Republican primary polls. The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio ahead of Crist in the Republican primary by a whopping 57.4%-29.1%, a 180-degree reversal from where things were last year.
Meek continued: “The governor [Crist] has always tried to play this, I’m a conservative in some crowds, and in other crowds I will walk the fence line and I will take issues and concerns from both sides, Democrats and Republicans, and I will play the official. He has really been an official that has been under the radar and not stepped out, or challenged the legislature to do something or even accomplished something in the legislature, because he served as governor with super-majorities in the legislature. And he has just stayed out of the way of those politics.”
Meek also addressed the continued speculation that Crist might quit the Republican primary and instead run for Senate as an independent. This speculation, which has been routinely denied in strong terms by the Crist campaign, has picked up again in the wake of Crist’s recent veto of a bill passed by the Republican legislature.
Meek said that Crist has already been moving rightward in his Senate campaign, and those conservative stances would still be a factor if he were to try to change course again by becoming an independent: “Even if the governor all of a sudden says, ‘I want to run as an independent,’ well if he decides to do that, the views that have already been stated and the views that will be stated as we move forward, I believe our campaign is the one that will prevail with the majority of the voters.”