Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's last campaign report had some surprising names in it. Yeah, he snagged some usual suspects as donors: Swampthing James Carville, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee Terry McAuliffe, and, um, Don King.
But he also scored a constituency that would presumptively belong to Republican Marco Rubio: deep-pocketed Cuban-Americans.
Still, Meek's last FEC filing showed that Jorge Mas Santos -- son of famed former milkman, CANF leader, and now deceased Jorge Mas Canosa, the pied piper of exiled Cubans -- gave Meek the maximum allowable donation in September: $2,400. And Ramon Mas Canosa, brother of Jorge Mas Sr., gave the congressman $1,000.
Meanwhile, the influential US-Cuba Democracy PAC gave Meek $5,000 in February. Only Mas Santos has donated to Rubio in kind; leper Charlie Crist was snubbed by all.
The Cuban-American lobby is historically Republican; Mas Santos even donated to Rudy Giuliani's stillborn presidential campaign in 2008. And so their financial endorsement not only represents a boon for the congressman but also gives him a head start over competitors with key backers.
It's a sign of how effectively Meek, as a South Florida congressman, has pursued the Cubans for more than five years.
A nonpartisan group last year placed him eighth in a list of the legislators who received the most from Cuban-American PACs and contributors.
Since the 2004 election, they have donated nearly $105,000 to his coffers.
And in 2005, Meek joined a bipartisan group of senators designed by Mas Santos's Cuban American National Foundation to keep pressure on the Cuban trade embargo.
Can Rubio add more Cuban-Americans to his ledger? FEC reports from the most recent quarter won't be available for another two weeks.
Update: Anyway, the bottom line doesn't look good for the Guv. There are too many believers in the ABCs -- Anything But Charlie -- says Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the US-Cuba PAC.
Indeed, looking at Crist's FEC filing, the only familiar Cubanazo name is Leon Medical Centers CEO Benjamin Leon, who dropped 24 G's in September.
"Kendrick has a long record in Congress of having stuck by our community. And Marco is from West Miami, Cuban-American boy makes good. If any two candidates have a leg up in our community, it's Marco and Kendrick," Claver-Carone says. "While Charlie has a done a great job, it's still an outside kind of support. He hasn't worked at building a relationship the way they have."
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