Poor Kendrick Meek. He was husbanding his resources, expecting to coast through the Democratic Senate primary, when three problems ganged up on him.
The first problem was predictable: low name recognition outside South Florida. But there are ways of dealing with that if name recognition your only problem. (To the extent that there was also lingering animosity among South Florida progressives for Meek’s very weak support of South Florida 2008 congressional candidates such as Annette Taddeo, well that was just the cost of positioning Meek as a middle-of-the-road candidate who could win votes upstate.)
The second problem was less predictable: Governor Charlie Crist got hammered by Tea Party fellow traveler Marco Rubio in the GOP primary polls, so he decided to run as an independent. Between that and his grandstanding on the gulf oil spill, Crist sucked up most of the media oxygen in the race. Plus he started leading in the polls, winning many independents and even some Democratics (see problem one above).
The third problem is just gross: a sleazy billionaire named Jeff Greene decided to try to buy the Democratic nomination. It’s hard to exaggerate just how bad Greene is. Here are a few choice facts.
- Jeff Greene has been a Florida resident for all of three years.
- Jeff Greene is not really a Democrat. He’s been a Republican for much of his life, and even ran for Congress as a Republican in California 1982.
- Jeff Greene made his billions betting that people would lose their homes in foreclosure. (Personally, I don’t hold this economic savvy against him — it might even be a positive — but it sure won’t win votes.)
- Jeff Greene’s personal life suggests he is completely unsuitable for the Senate.
But if you have billions you can buy a lot of campaign commercials, and flood the zone with fancy glossy mailers (I’ve gotten at least two fat ones).
And it seems to be working: although there is a huge pool of undecided, Greene now leads Meek in the latest polls.
So Meek has gone on the air. But Meek’s second campaign commercial looks awfully defensive.
There is a mixed message here. Neither a “meet Kendrick” nor 100% an attack ad, the spot tries to do both at the same time, and maybe flails a bit at both. And any time you have to pay money to say “Kendrick Meek is not part of a fraud case,” you are in trouble.
Given his lackluster record on progressive issues, Meek is a difficult candidate to get excited about; only the abysmal quality of his opposition spurs one to sympathy. Charlie Crist has to be laughing: if Greene manages to buy this nomination, people like me may have to vote for Crist, even though he’s as principled and as reliable as a weathervane, just to avoid getting a hard-core rightist in Marco Rubio. Or we may sit that race out. Either way, if Greene wins, then Crist wins.