The 2010 Florida U.S. Senate Race is heading towards quite a finish. Here in Florida we’ve grown accustomed to the unpredictable nature of politics. After all, it was only 10 years ago that we lived through the hotly contested 2000 presidential election recount, with its hanging chads and frayed nerves. It appears that the political gods have smiled upon us one more time with this year’s 2010 Florida U.S. Senate race. Just when we thought that we had this whole thing figured out, the unexpected occurred and presto, what was once a rather one-sided affair is suddenly up for grabs. There are three primary participants in the Florida senate race and each one has his own story to tell.
Rubio the Right-Wing Favorite
The Republican primary participant is Marco Rubio, who is former Florida House Speaker and a favorite among conservatives and Tea Party members. After holding a substantial lead against the incumbent Gov. Crist in the Florida Senate Republican primary and riding a national wave of key endorsements, the Rubio campaign seems to have encountered an unexpected problem. How do you handle the newly minted independent Senate run of Gov. Charlie Crist? In spite of raising $3.6 million, three times that of Crist, the recent Mason-Dixon poll released on May 6th confirms what has been the deepest fear of many Florida republicans; the moderate Charlie Crist is actually polling better as an Independent than he was as a Republican. Rubio’s poll numbers have also slid 8 points since March, while Crist has seen a 16-point jump. Additionally, the IRS and Federal Government are investigating the possible misuse of State Party credit cards by key Republican leaders including Rubio. If you add this scandal in to the mix, it has not been a stable 30 days in the U.S. Senate campaign of Marco Rubio.
Meek the Unknown Candidate
Florida voters simply do not know Kendrick Meek. A recent poll found that 73% of those polled indicated that they did not know enough about Meek to either have a favorable or unfavorable view of him. The U.S. Congressman from Miami has been toiling for months in the shadows of Crist and Rubio, seemingly unable to find his voice in this campaign. Meek is considered an attractive candidate with a solid resume of political accomplishments. Elected to office at the age of 27, Rep. Meek has served effectively in the Florida State Legislature before starting his four-term run in the U.S. Congress. The challenge for the Miami Democrat will be finding a way to communicate directly with the people of Florida in a U.S. Senate race that has garnered national attention and contains plenty of star power. With his numbers declining over the last month the key question for the Meek campaign will be whether they can capitalize on the recent changes in this election. The upcoming contested Democratic Primary held on August 24th provides Meek with the opportunity to gain some momentum by introducing himself to the Florida voter.
Crist the Independent Candidate
And finally, we have the unpredictable Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Always viewed in Florida as a moderate with populist impulses, Crist began his U.S. senate run as a Republican, bolting out to an early lead against the newcomer, Rubio. Then, as is often the case in local politics, the winds of change began to blow. It began with the far right’s criticism of Crist for accepting stimulus money from the Obama Administration and continued with an economic downturn that resulted in record rates of joblessness. Voter discontent became more apparent as Marco Rubio overtook Crist in the Republican primary polls. Crist then began distancing himself from the Florida Republican party by calling for a federal investigation over possible misuse of funds, influence peddling, and corruption. Speculation began to mount as Gov. Crist stood against the Florida Republican party again with two key vetoes of Republican-backed legislation. Crist officially broke with the Republican Party on April 29th, choosing to run instead as an independent. This bold political move began a new stage in this Senate race.
As it stands today, the Florida U.S. Senate race is up for grabs. The RealClearPolitics.com average has the race at 36% for Crist, 32% for Rubio, and 20% for Meek. Here is more drama from a state that is becoming synonymous with political theater. Once again, Florida will be on the main stage of our national politic, and once again we are poised to provide quite a show.