Democrat Kendrick Meek may drop out of the senate race giving a independent Charlie Crist an big boost in his chances of defeating conservative Republican Marco Rubio, according to an explosive new report from The Wall Street Journal. Whoa, but is the candidate who just yesterday refused to share an endorsement with Crist really about to drop out of the race to give Crist a big boost? Update: It appears, if anything, Meek might not have a choice in the matter.
While Democrats had originally hoped that Crist's independent turn would split Republican voters, it has actually split the Democratic vote and kept Meek's polling numbers, at best, in the high 20s.
Meanwhile, Crist and his surrogates have aggressively courted Democratic voters despite not commenting on which party he would caucus with if ultimately elected.
The problem with The Wall Street Journal's reportis that there's no one on record to confirm it, and the piece barely fleshes out any details.
It leads with, "Republican leaders in the Sunshine State are fretting that a deal may be in the works to get Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek out of the Florida Senate race in order to boost Charlie Crist's flagging chances of beating Republican Marco Rubio."
Rehashes the obvious about the race, and ends with, "Now the murmur among Democrats in favor of switching to Mr. Crist is rising again. We'll find out soon, as one GOP county chairman told me, whether Dems finally prefer 'to win with Charlie than lose with Meeks.'"
Giving that apparently even political insiders can't correctly pronounce Meek's name (no "S," Mr. GOP County Chairman), it's not that insane, but just because it isn't unthinkable doesn't mean the WSJ (owned by the same company as Fox News) should drop that .theory with out showing any evidence.
But let's take the bait: If Crist promises to caucus with Democrats, it makes sense. The only question is what is in for Meek. He's shown no signs in stopping his attacks against Crist, and had a surprisingly feisty performance in this week's debate. Granted, he's already giving up his almost guaranteed congressional seat and if he loses his political career is fin. Maybe there'd be a deal in place to get him some sort of nice appointment somewhere.
Though, this is just the latest in the way the Florida Democratic party has sloppily handled this race. If they had picked and groomed a stronger candidate to run from the get go they might have been in a better situation. Instead they went with Meek who had no experience campaigning state wide and little name recognition. A stronger Democratic candidate probably would have kept Crist from leaving the Republican party, it might have dissuaded Republican from taking a chance on Marco Rubio, or even might have kept Crist on his plans to run for Governor.
Tristram Korten, reporting for The Florida Independent, spoke with Meek's campaign, and got this statement:
When told The Wall Street Journal had published a rumor he would drop out of the Florida senate race, Kendrick Meek laughed out loud.
"I'm taking a stand against the radical right. Marco Rubio has always been the Tea Party candidate and yesterday Charlie Crist says he wants to crash the Tea Party, too. I'm the only candidate who's fighting for the middle class and I'm not going anywhere except the United States Senate," Meek said. "If you want to stop the privatization of Social Security and Medicare, stop more tax cuts for the wealthy, stop more special interest tax breaks, stop more environmental destruction and stop more jobs being shipped overseas, I'm asking you to take a stand with me.
"Because if they want to go back to the Bush years, they're going to have to go through this six foot three inch former state trooper."
Enter The Daily Beast who says that if anything happens, Meek won't be privy to the deal:
Their story is based more on signs and murmurs than solid reporting, but they do note that Crist has met with Majority Leader Harry Reid. Before Meek began consolidating the Democratic vote, Crist was in the lead in many polls and if Democrats conclude Meek can't win, it could be in their interest to throw their weight behind the governor, especially given his recent swing to the left. Rubio is well below 50 percent in the polls and still potentially vulnerable in a two-candidate race. Meek's camp is moving quickly to deny the story, however, and if Democrats want Crist as their man, they may find their current candidate won't go quietly.