Polls show Hillary Clinton enjoys overwhelming support from African-Americans in Florida over Bernie Sanders, but black people are not excited about voting for her. They haven’t forgotten how her husband, President Bill Clinton, screwed Kendrick Meek six years ago in the U.S. Senate race.
You may remember that election. Marco Rubio won.
At the time, Meek was a rising Democratic star in the Sunshine State. He’s the son of Carrie Meek, the first African-American elected to the Florida Senate and subsequently the first black Floridian elected to Congress since Reconstruction. The state’s black community considers her the mother of all mothers. Kendrick succeeded her in the House after spending most of his state legislative career tangling with Florida’s once-all-powerful Republican governor, Jeb Bush, over affirmative action, class size, and other issues important to minorities.
And Kendrick was instrumental in helping Barack Obama win the presidency in 2008.
Yet the Democratic Party and the Clintons abandoned Kendrick when it was his time to rise. In the midst of the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, Bill Clinton tried to get him to drop out of the race and endorse Charlie Crist, the then-governor who left the Republican Party to run as an independent when Rubio clobbered him in the primary.
African-Americans across the state still have a problem with Bill telling Kendrick to stand down.
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Meek finished a dismal third. He was so disgusted by what happened that he’s no longer involved in politics. The Florida Democratic Party has been in disarray since. It has no leaders who can reach out to the African-American community.
Even though Hillary is likely to win the Sunshine State in the primary, she’ll have a problem in the general election. Republicans are turning out in record numbers, while Democratic voters are casting fewer ballots than they did before Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Hillary thinks she’ll win blacks by having Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, stump for her.
She really needs to hold a news conference with Kendrick by her side and apologize for his mistreatment. Otherwise, she can forget about winning Florida.