Meek Wins the Democratic Nod in Florida

Posted August 24, 2010 at 7:35pm

Rep. Kendrick Meek beat back a spirited challenge from wealthy real estate investor Jeff Greene on Tuesday to secure the Democratic nomination in the race for Florida’s open Senate seat.

With about 40 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race with 55 percent for Meek and 32 percent for Greene.

Greene spent more than $14 million of his own money to try to knock off Meek, the establishment favorite in the race. But after Greene gained momentum in the early summer, a slew of stories about his partying lifestyle and questionable business dealings turned the race decidedly in Meek’s favor.

Meek also employed high-profile surrogates like President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton to help push back against Greene’s aggressive media campaign. He was aided by strong independent expenditure efforts by the Service Employees International Union and a group called Florida Is Not for Sale, which spent more than a quarter-million dollars in the primary and has ties to members of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign team.

Meek was forced to spend about $5 million on the primary, and that money will surely be missed when the Congressman begins his uphill general election battle against Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R). A survey released Tuesday by a Democratic polling firm showed Rubio leading that race with 40 percent followed by Crist at 32 percent and Meek at just 17.