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Former Republican (and future Dem governor candidate?) Charlie Crist endorses Obama

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 by George Bennett

Obama and Crist in Fort Myers, February, 2009.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose rise as a Republican star flamed out after his 2009 man-hug of President Obama in Fort Myers, has endorsed Obama’s reelection in an op-ed piece in today’s Tampa Bay Times.

Timed, no doubt, to get a rise out of his former party as Republicans from across the U.S. arrive in Tampa for this week’s GOP convention, the Crist endorsement provoked a quick denunciation from Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry.

“Today we have seen a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician. While the people of Florida, and thousands of visitors who’ve traveled here, are facing an emergency, Charlie Crist has demonstrated, yet again, that his political ambition will always come first,” Curry said.

Lifelong Republican Crist was elected governor in 2006 and got some consideration to be John McCain‘s running mate in 2008. He was a slam-dunk favorite to win the 2010 Republican Senate nomination, but Marco Rubio tapped into tea party dissatisfaction with Crist’s embrace of the $787 billion Democratic stimulus bill. Crist introduced Obama, and briefly hugged the recently inaugurated Democratic president, during a stimulus pep rally in Fort Myers in February 2009.

Rubio used a picture of “The Hug” to symbolize conservative dissatisfaction with the moderate Crist and overtook him in the polls. Crist dropped out of the Republican Party in 2010 and continued his Senate bid as a no-party candidate, abandoning his conservative GOP primary rhetoric to accuse his old party of being beholden to extremists on the right. Crist lost the general election to Rubio but outpolled Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek.


Kendrick Meek endorses Frankel for Congress over Crist-backed primary rival

Thursday, January 19th, 2012 by George Bennett


Former U.S. Rep. and 2010 Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek is endorsing Lois Frankel‘s congressional bid.

Democrat Frankel is running in a primary against Patrick Murphy for the seat of U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation.

Meek cited his longstanding friendship with Frankel going back to their days in the Florida legislature, adding “I know of no better person to take on Allen West and replace his extreme obstructionism with a proven leader who can get things done.”

It would have been a shocker if Meek backed Murphy. Murphy got a $1,000 contribution from former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose independent bid for Senate in 2010 siphoned votes from Meek. Murphy’s consultant, Eric Johnson, was a strategist for Crist’s campaign.

Meek nominated for UN post

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former Miami U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who lost a Senate bid last fall to Republican Marco Rubio, was nominated Monday by President Obama to serve as a representative to the U.N. General Assembly.

Meek was among three officials put forward by Obama. Since leaving Congress in January, Meek has been president of KBM Solutions, a consulting firm for disaster relief, and editorial chairman of Politic365, an online news site for policy and politics.

Hastings, Deutch ask U.S. Labor Sec to step into Kravis Center labor dispute

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by George Bennett

U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, today urged U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to intervene in a long-running dispute between the Kravis Center and a stagehands union.

The union and the West Palm Beach performing arts venue have been at odds since 2000, when center officials broke off contract talks and stopped using union stagehands. A federal appeals court in 2008 upheld two lower court rulings that the center had engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to return to the bargaining table. Talks broke down in January.

“As this conflict dates back over a decade, we therefore request that you please take a stand to compel the Kravis Center to change their course of conduct once and for all,” Hastings and Deutch say in a letter to Solis.

Kravis Center officials didn’t immediately respond.

Union members have not gone on strike, but have conducted “informational pickets” outside the Kravis Center from time to time. During last year’s U.S. Senate campaign, former Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek refused to cross the picket line.

Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, who’s now a Democratic congressional candidate, and liberal comedian Bill Maher are among those who have crossed the informational pickets.

Smith stops short of booting Ausman from party post

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by John Kennedy

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith suspended Leon County State Committeeman Jon Ausman through next year’s presidential contest, but stopped short Wednesday of following a party panel’s recommendation that he be tossed off the executive committee.

Ausman has been under fire for taking sides in party primary contests in Leon County and also for backing Jeff Greene, who paid for his campaign work, over Kendrick Meek in last summer’s Democratic U.S. Senate contest.

A party disciplinary committee voted 5-1 May 2 to recommend Ausman’s removal for “conduct of such an outrageous nature as to violate the understood professional standards of our party.”

But Smith, in his ruling, seemed to look for a middle ground.

Instead, Smith ordered that Ausman be suspended from party activities until Dec. 1, 2012, although he would “entertain a petition for reinstatement,” after June 1.

“In support of my decision to mitigate, I have considered the best interests of the FDP and I find that a permanent removal should be avoided if a lesser penalty will send a sufficient message to the offender and deter such conduct in the future,” Smith wrote.

 Ausman has been a Democratic activist for more than 30 years, holding a number of leadership posts within the party.

 He also has an encyclopedic understanding of party rules — a skill he has used frequently in past party battles, including the 2008 delegate fight stemming from Florida’s presidential primary that violated national party rules.

Asked whether he would accept the suspension — and a Smith olive branch, Ausman said, “I’m thinking about it. I will probably do a press conference soon.”

Kendrick Meek to chair editorial board for

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by George Bennett


Former Democratic U.S. Rep. and unsuccessful 2010 Senate candidate Kendrick Meek has been named chairman of the editorial board for , a news and commentary site that focuses on “penetrating communities of color.”

Says Meek: “ is bringing the power of the Web and modern technology to serve an age-old concern — the need to connect. As chair of the Editorial Board, I want to build on this success. I want to make Politic365 an essential part of the daily lives of Americans. I want to build on Politic365’s strengths — its news, its analysis, its informed and civil conversations — on the challenges facing our nation.

“As Chairman of the Editorial Board, it is my goal to make sure that Politic365 is one of the favorites on computer screens throughout the U.S. for news and information.”

D.C. consulting firm sues Jeff Greene

Monday, December 6th, 2010 by George Bennett


Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, who lost a self-financed Democratic Senate primary bid in August, has been sued by a Washington-based consulting firm that claims it’s owed $394,000 for media work it did late in the campaign, the South Florida Business Journal is reporting.

Greene said through his attorney that he has a right to challenge some of the charges sought by the Devine Mulvey firm, the Business Journal reported.

Shouts and storm-outs as county Democrats discuss censuring Aaronson, Sachs, Vana

Friday, December 3rd, 2010 by George Bennett

After more than an hour of heated discussion, the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee voted to send a “brisk” letter of disapproval to Democrats (from left) Aaronson, Sachs and Vana for endorsing Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race.

Carole Pollack was inducted as a Palm Beach County Democratic precinct captain Thursday night. Less than two hours later, after listening to party members shout each other down and seeing several walk out in protest, Pollack herself was storming out of a Democratic Executive Committee meeting in West Delray saying she might never return.

Pollack witnessed an intramural Democratic bloodbath over whether the party should take action against Democratic County Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Shelley Vana and state Sen. Maria Sachs for bucking the party and endorsing Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the Nov. 2 U.S. Senate race.

Committee members who stayed to the bitter end rejected a motion to censure the elected officials but voted to authorize a committee to send a “brisk” letter telling them of their disapproval.

Pollack didn’t stick around for the final vote.

“This is the first time I’ve been here. I’m not sure that it won’t be the last. I’m very upset by what I’m seeing here,” she told the party activists who met at Temple Emeth.


Meek will remain in South Florida, family returns to D.C. today, campaign manager says

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Ana Valdes

Kendrick Meek’s campaign manager, Abe Dyk, said the Miami congressman spent the day with his family in Miami, and would take his wife and children to the airport this afternoon for their return to Washington D.C.

But Meek, who yesterday finalized an almost two-year campaign for the U.S. Senate, will remain in South Florida, Dyk added.

Earlier today, Dyk said his staff had given Meek the day off.

“I don’t think he’s had a day off in a year and 10 months,” Dyk said, adding that he had no information about what was next for Meek. 

“I’m not sure whether he knows what’s next,” Dyk said.

After speaking with supporters last night and congratulating Republican Marco Rubio on his victory, Meek said he was looking forward to sleeping in for a couple days. He also had plans to spend time with his family and enjoy one of his favorite hobbies — fishing.

Meek thanks supporters, wishes Rubio good luck in ‘an uphill battle’

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Ana Valdes

Less than a couple hours after polls closed, Kendrick Meek addressed dozens of supporters at The Rusty Pelican, and told them he had already called Rep. Marco Rubio to congratulate him.

“Florida spoke, and spoke overwhelmingly,” Meek said, adding that he commended Rubio on how he ran his campaign. “For someone who came from the outside, to come to the inside and take a commanding lead in the race almost a month a go is to be commended.”

“I wish him well, because it’s an uphill battle,” Meek added.

The Democratic candidate, who was joined on stage by his wife, children, mother and sister, also said he had called Gov. Charlie Crist and said they shared “charitable words.”

Meek admitted things were a little tense toward the end of the campaign, when rumors flourished numerous times that he would consider dropping out to endorse Charlie Crist.

“I feel that we ran the best campaign we could, under the circumstances. It was a tense environment,” Meek said, adding that the controversy had an effect on voters.

“I think that Crist trying to cross over on issues did bring some confusion to the voters, ,” he added.

When asked if he would have done anything differently, Meek said he was proud of his campaign and his supporters.

“Maybe Florida could have known me a little better, and maybe I could have known Florida a little better,” he said. “But God’s will always prevails.”

Meek told reporters he hadn’t thought much about he next steps professionally, but he’s sure that he wants to go fishing and sleep in a couple nights this week.

Meek’s mother, former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, arrives early to son’s campaign party

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Ana Valdes

KEY BISCAYNE — Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek just arrived at The Rusty Pelican, close to an hour before her son Kendrick is expected to meet his supporters for his campaign party.

The elder Meek has kept to herself for most of her son’s campaign, but this weekend joined him for worship at their Baptist church in Liberty City. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, toured several black churches in South Florida on Sunday to reach out to minority voters.

Carrie Meek, one of Florida’s first black members of Congress, also attended a rally with Vice President Joe Biden in Hollywood in September.

Rubio ahead in early, early, early returns

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Palm Beach Post Staff

In the tight Florida U.S. Senate race, early results from The Associated Press are showing that Republican candidate Marco Rubio is taking the lead.
However, just 8 percent of the precincts are in — 537 of 6,881 precincts
The results are:
Marco Rubio, GOP 715,711 – 51 percent
Charlie Crist, Ind 400,876 – 29 percent
Kendrick Meek, Dem 273,090 – 19 percent

Preparations under way for Meek campaign party in Key Biscayne

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Ana Valdes

KEY BISCAYNE — The stage is all lit up and a huge American flag hangs from the back wall, while a large screen is already playing YouTube videos of Kendrick Meek and will eventually display tonight’s election results.

The second floor ballroom at the popular Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne is where Democrat Meek will find out whether he will become Florida’s next Senator.

Meek, who for the last 24 hours has been touring the state looking for last minute support, is expected to arrive with his wife and children at around 8:30 p.m., according to his campaign. (more…)

Meek tells Delray Beach supports he’s ‘going to continue to move on to victory.’

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Ana Valdes

DELRAY BEACH — In his final stop in Palm Beach County before polls close at 7 p.m. tonight, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek remained optimistic about the election, and encouraged dozens of supporters to keep calling last-minute voters.

“We’ve worked very hard,” said Meek this afternoon a Democratic Campaign for Accountability Office in Delray Beach. “We’ll see what the results are tonight, but if work has anything to do with it, we will be OK.”

Meek’s son, Kendrick Jr., met up with his father at the phone bank in Delray Beach, and even managed to make a couple calls himself, said  Palm Beach County Democratic State Committeewoman Bunny Steinman.

“We are going to continue to move on to victory,” Meek said, despite the fact that polls still show him trailing independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio. (more…)

Clinton: “I oughta be the tea party’s poster child”

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Jeff Ostrowski

Former Pres. Bill Clinton, right, shakes hands with Democratic candidate for Florida governor Alex Sink, as Rep. Alan Grayson D-Fla., right, watches at the end of a Florida Democratic Party rally in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Nov. 1, 2010.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO — Speaking to several hundred voters Monday night, former President Bill Clinton stumped for Alex Sink and Kendrick Meek and chided Republicans for the big deficits that came before and after his two terms.

In a nod to the tea party’s influence in an election that’s expected to go badly for Democrats, Clinton pointed to his years in the White House as rare examples of balanced budgets and robust job growth.

“Where is the love?” Clinton asked. “I oughta be the tea party’s poster child.”

Speaking from an outdoor stage near Lake Eola, Clinton also bashed Republicans for cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

“I don’t know why I’m not over there at one of their rallies,” he said. “They’re just throwing money at me.”


Frontrunner Rubio says underdog days kept him true to message

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by George Bennett

Lifesize Reagan cutout adorned with Rubio sticker at Hialeah office

HIALEAH — Republican Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio, making his final pre-election campaign appearance at a GOP office here, said starting his campaign as an underdog in early 2009 forced him to keep true to his core beliefs.

Rubio has become a national conservative superstar with polls showing him holding a solid lead over independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek heading into Tuesday’s election. But Rubio began the race as a longshot in the GOP primary against then-Republican Gov. Crist.

“I’m grateful and thank God every night that we had a difficult election early on because it forced us to know what we stood for,” Rubio told reporters. “When you don’t have money and you don’t have organization, all you have is your message and your core beliefs. Most campaigns when they’ve got a lot of money and a lot of staff, they don’t ever establish those core beliefs. I’m glad that’s how we started and I’m really glad that’s how we’re finishing.”

Rubio greeted about two dozen supporters at a campaign office that features a life-size cardboard cutout of conservative icon Ronald Reagan with a Rubio sticker slapped onto the Gipper’s chest. Rubio exchanged pleasantries in Spanish with the campaign workers, then conducted interviews in English and Spanish.

Dem pollster: governor’s race too close to call; Rubio headed for ‘easy victory’ in Senate race

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by George Bennett

Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, which correctly forecast Rick Scott’s GOP gubernatorial primary win while most other polls showed Bill McCollum ahead, says the governor’s race between Scott and Democrat Alex Sink is too close to call.

PPP gives Sink a 48-to-47 percent edge in a Saturday-Sunday poll of 773 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

In the Senate race, PPP says Republican Marco Rubio is headed for “an easy victory” with 47 percent to 30 percent for independent Charlie Crist and 21 percent for Democrat Kendrick Meek.

Final Q poll: Rubio +14, Sink-Scott guv race tooclosetocall

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by George Bennett

Quinnipiac University’s final pre-election poll, which wrapped up Sunday night, shows Republican Marco Rubio with a 45-to-31 percent lead over indie Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race, with Democrat Kendrick Meek at 18 percent.

The governor’s race is too close to call, with Democrat Alex Sink up 44-to-43 percent over Republican Rick Scott in an Oct. 25-31 poll of 925 likely voters that has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Quinnipiac’s final pre-primary poll in August showed Meek with a 10-point lead over Democratic Senate primary rival Jeff Greene (Meek won by 26.5 points) and Bill McCollum topping Scott by 4 points in the GOP governor’s primary (Scott won by 2.8 percent).

Click here to read the complete poll.

Black church leaders in Miami-Dade remain faithful to Kendrick “no quit” Meek

Sunday, October 31st, 2010 by Ana Valdes

Dem. Kendrick Meek and his mother, former Miami Congresswoman Carrie Meek, receive the blessing from a pastor in Liberty City on Sunday.

MIAMI — With a brown Bible in hand, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek set out Sunday morning to attract last-minute support in some of Miami-Dade and Broward County’s largest black churches.

The Miami congressman got nothing more than well wishes and hopeful chants from hundreds of supporters, who say they will stick to his campaign despite recent rumors that he’d consider an early exit.

“Don’t you quit, don’t you quit,” chanted a crowd of women at Mt. Hermon AME Church in Miami Gardens, the third in a tour of almost a half dozen churches Meek visited in South Florida.

Members of the Mt. Hermon congregation extended their hands over Meek’s head and asked for God to bless him during the final stretch of the campaign.

“You can’t get elected unless you pass by Mt. Hermon,” said Rev. John F. White II, the church’s pastor and Meek’s friend.“We call him Kendrick‘don’t quit’ Meek.” (more…)

Meek says flap “has been good for my campaign”

Saturday, October 30th, 2010 by Jeff Ostrowski

Senate candidate Kendrick Meek says the attention focused on whether he’ll stay in the race has energized his supporters.

“This has been good for my campaign,” Meek told reporters this afternoon in Wilton Manors. “We’re seeing a surge in voter participation.”

Meek said he has been getting calls and e-mails from supporters urging him to stay in the race.

“It’s inspired them to vote,” he said. “It’s inspired them to call their family members, it’s inspired them to continue to insure that democracy reigns.”

Friday’s headlines were dominated by stories about former President Bill Clinton asking Meek to quit the race. Meek says Clinton raised the topic but didn’t encourage Meek to bow out.

However, Meek said Crist earlier this week pressed him to leave the race. One day this week, Meek said, Crist called Meek’s cell phone at 4:57 a.m. and left a message. And, Meek said, in a face-to-face conversation, Crist asked him to drop out.

“I said, ‘That’s a non-starter,’” Crist recalled.

Meek said Crist then offered a small cross and asked Meek to keep it while he mulled over his decision. Meek, a Democratic Congressman, is running a distant third in the polls behind Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist.

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