The Campaign Spot

Mean Jeff Greene

Today’s Jolt includes tales of past White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but in the more substantive news of the morning:

Greene With Envy

I used up a lot of my thoughts on Charlie Crist yesterday, but I’m starting to wonder if Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek removed some cursed jewel from an Egyptian tomb or something, because the exact day that he gets his luckiest break of the campaign, self-made billionaire real estate mogul Jeff Greene announces he’s running for Senate as a Democrat. Hey, Primary Day does matter in Florida this year after all!

This profile of Greene makes his life story appear to be a Horatio Alger story told by David Lynch, with a few potential campaign trail pitfalls strewn here and there: Who has Mike Tyson as his best man at his wedding? (Insert a particularly wickedly smart righty mind’s joke about Michael Steele: If you can’t convince your sister that marrying Mike Tyson is a bad idea, you’re not allowed to be RNC Chairman.) Who takes Richie Cunningham to the California Supreme Court over a rental dispute? Host to Heidi Fleiss for a year after her prison stint? And then invites her to Passover with his mother? Any candidate who can be easily linked to Paris Hilton, Heidi Fleiss and Mike Tyson is a little outside the norm, but then again, this is Florida, where the political class is a bit more colorful and roguish than the national average: Mark Foley and the pages, Tim Mahoney cheating on his mistress, Katherine Harris, Alcee Hastings (the sixth federal judge to be impeached and removed from office in American history who then went to Congress). Somebody’s got to give Carl Hiassen all that material for his novels.

Still, Greene can run as the one guy with the smarts and clear vision to see the housing bubble coming, a boast few current members of the Senate could match. Could Greene win? Well, even a tiny fraction of Greene’s fortune goes a long way even in an expensive state like Florida, and he can put up a lot of ads touting what a swell guy he is and how Kendrick Meek is responsible for all that ails Florida and/or the known universe.

The most likely scenario is that Greene spends a lot and falls short as he’s built no trust, no established relationship with Florida Democrats and African-Americans deliver enough votes to get Meek the nomination. Having said that, Kendrick Meek effectively inherited his House seat from his mother (she resigned shortly before the filing deadline, he was the lone Democrat, and no Republican ran, making him a non-incumbent who ran unopposed in his first bid for Congress) and has never run against a Republican opponent.

At Red State, Moe Lane notes an underexposed angle in all this: “If Crist really does declare an independent run this afternoon Sen. Cornyn of the NRSC will wind up looking foolish, true. Only thing is, Sen Menendez of the DSCC is going to end up looking even worse. He’s the one who recruited a candidate that Rasmussen has in third in a GOP split and who PPP reports is less popular than Crist. And now the DSCC actually has to go all-in on a bad fundraiser and an uninspiring candidate*.  That’s bad enough in a year where they’re playing offense – which is to say, a year that’s not 2010.”


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