Political circles are swirling with whispers that Kendrick Meek, the lagging Democrat in Florida’s three-person Senate race, is considering dropping out and throwing his support behind independent Charlie Crist. But both sides say the rumor is just that.
“Hell freezes over before Meek drops out,” one Rubio advisor told Battle ‘10. “I think that is wishful thinking by Crist,” another said.
Democrats agree. Eric Jotkoff, communications director with the Florida Democratic Party, told Battle ‘10, the rumor is, “just another example of Charlie Crist being a typical politician, spreading complete lies trying to gin up something.”
“The reality is there’s only one quitter in this Senate race, and that’s Charlie Crist,” Jotkoff said. “I literally — I got a call about it — and I busted out laughing. ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Meek spokesman Dave Hoffman told Battle ‘10 that the rumors are “patently untrue,” and pointed to the Congressman’s forceful debate performance as evidence. He has a point. Just two days ago, during a televised debate, Meek said that Crist, “stands on a wet paper box as it relates to the issues,” and described him as the “Governor Wallace” of gay adoption.
Yesterday Meek declined a Sierra Club endorsement as an “insult” to environmentalists, because the group also endorsed Crist. “The Sierra Club has chosen to stand with a governor who stood on stage applauding as Sarah Palin chanted, ‘Drill, Baby, Drill,’ a governor who signed a law making it easier for big developers to drain the Everglades, a governor who endorsed a bill that would have allowed drilling just three miles away from Florida beaches, and a governor who used polluter talking points to attack climate change legislation,” Meek said in a statement.
Doesn’t sound like a man contemplating a withdrawl. Whether he’s up or whether he’s down, Meek sees himself as fighting the good fight.
Some have also speculated that Meek needs to run strong in order to help down-ballot candidates like Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Alex Sink. Dropping out could result in decreased turnout among African-American voters. With a tight race for the governor’s mansion, that might be a poor trade, especially when the results of such a move on the Senatorial race are far from clear.
The latest poll shows Rubio leading the race with 42 percent, with Crist picking up 27 percent and Meek 21 percent. Theoretically, then, the “anybody but Rubio” vote is 48 percent. UPDATE: A reader points out today’s new Rasmussen poll, which shows Rubio beating Crist and Meek combined in a 50-25-19 race.
But it seems unlikely that Meek’s staunchest supporters would break for Crist. Some might not vote at all. Others might vote for Meek anyway in protest.
Approximately 1.5 million absentee ballots are already out bearing Meek’s name printed on them. Election day ballots may or may not be already printed, depending on the county.
“Some of them do several printings — some for their absentee, then early, then election day,” Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Florida Secretary of State, told Battle ‘10. Others have “ballot on demand” systems which in some cases print ballots as voters come to the polls.
Meek dropping out of the race would certainly change the dynamic, but Crist would still have a hard road ahead of him. In such a scenario, he could pledge to caucus with the Democrats to try and pull more of the party’s base, though that would put his support among right-leaning independents in jeopardy.
He probably won’t have to make any such decision. According to both sides, Meek isn’t going anywhere.
“With just 25 days to go, this is the point in the campaign where false rumors and attacks become the norm because some people will sadly say or do anything to win,” Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos told Battle ‘10.