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Cuban-Americans Snub Compadre for Meek

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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.

Just last week, when YouTubin' Meek was crowing about the $1.2 million he hauled in the last quarter of 2009, Rubio raised $1.75 million, and Gov. Charlie Crist announced he raked in $2 million.

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.

Until then, he'll have to be satisfied with being ahead in polls, fundraising, and most important, the net roots race. On Twitter, he's besting Meek, 8,618 followers to 1,881

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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