#FLSen: Team Meek sheds its new media director (and tries to fend of Charlie)

Florida 2010 Senate candidates, Crist, Rubio and Meek.

Kenneth Quinnell, who’s well known to Florida bloggers, particularly on the left, announced today that he is leaving the Kendrick Meek campaign. Interestingly enough, with 56 days to go, he’s not being replaced.

Quinnell said in a post to the Florida Progressive Coalition blog, which he runs, that he was released by the campaign because he couldn’t move to Miami to work out of campaign headquarters due to family issues (he is a divorced father with three kids including one with special needs) and because:

It really is a luxury for a campaign to have a full-time paid new media director when you are facing the combined fund-raising prowess of the sitting governor of one of the largest and most powerful states in the union and the darling of the Tea Party movement.

… meaning the campaign is shifting what cash it has onto TV and radio. Quinnell said he is not being replaced, and that his duties will be farmed out to other staffers. Which is a shame, because Kenny has actually done the campaign a service by strongly pushing back against some of the memes that kept liberal bloggers from getting on board. Eventually, he even managed to wrangle some positive Kos coverage.

Quinnell said he has no animosity toward the campaign (even though they just added him to the nation’s unemployment numbers) and he still supports Meek as the best candidate for the Senate. Not sure if there will be an official announcement from the campaign.

Quinnell’s post touched off a mini war of words between him and his favorite adversary, Michael Hussey of PushingRope, who has been holding regular seances for the Meek campaign almost since the Congressman announced (he has now declared the campaign to be a zombie, and from what I understand, he has been booted from the Progressive Blog Coalition for his trouble.) The spat doesn’t mean much in and of itself, except that it illustrates the tough job Quinnell has had — starting with having to push back against netroots disappointment that liberal darling Dan Gelber was getting out of the Senate primary, and continuing as Quinnell had to do solo push-back against Markos Moulitsas, who was relentlessly hostile to the campaign in the early months, and openly wooing Charlie Crist to become a Democrat (and he wasn’t alone) plus the ongoing, nagging doubts of left-leaning bloggers who thought Meek too corporate, too bland, or too … something … to merit the kind of national-level online push that Marco Rubio has enjoyed on the right.

That the campaign is now clipping its new media operation, essentially handing it off to a volunteer or other staffer as a part time gig, tells you the campaign isn’t long on cash (word on the tweet is the Bill Clinton fundraiser in New York City Tuesday night raised about $175,000, which will buy, like 2 TV commercials in the I-4 for a day… hopefully the Biden funder will do better…) And as Quinnell said, what cash they have they’re saving for TV and radio. Expect them to rely heavily on OFA and the coordinated campaign for field operations and GOTV if they’re letting new media go; plus they’ll be counting on their actually quite solid outreach effort with black churches to bring out the base.

Meanwhile, Meek has to deal with stuff like those annoying, blinking red lights:

TAMPA — It’s approaching do-or-die time for Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek.

To have any shot at prevailing in Florida’s unprecedented three-way U.S. Senate race, Crist needs to marginalize Democratic nominee Meek, who in turn needs to knock down lingering perceptions that he can’t win.

“The next 10 days are critical for Kendrick Meek because he really has to show Democrats in this state and in Washington in particular that he has a shot, that he’s a viable candidate who can win,” said Republican consultant John Wehrung. “There’s a blinking red light in the corner of Kendrick Meek’s eye warning him that Charlie Crist is stealing all his Democrats and he needs to find a way to get them back, like now.”

It may be Florida’s first statewide race featuring three serious contenders, but at this stage Republican nominee Marco Rubio, 39, can largely float above the fray while independent Crist, 54, and Democrat Meek, 44, vie to be the main alternative to Rubio. Crist is banking on winning strong support from Democratic voters, largely with a simple message: “I can win.”

That implies, of course, that Meek can’t.

Blinking, blinking …

At a gathering of Democratic activists in Palm Beach County last week, a heckler demanded that County Commissioner Burt Aaronson declare his support for Meek. He did, but said afterward that Meek has a lot to prove in the next few weeks before absentee ballots go out.

“I’m waiting to see what the polls are to see if Kendrick is viable in the Senate race,” said Aaronson. “The one thing I don’t want to do is take a chance. … It’s not a matter of voting for Charlie Crist. It’s a matter of voting against Marco Rubio.”

Now, when I post stuff like that, people get pissed. Go figure…

BTW while we’re on the Florida Senate race, Peter Schorsch’s contrarian view of the Crist Elmo ad (featuring big, Sesame Street letters) and Meek’s airboat/speedboat/lawn mower ad is not to be missed. Karl Malone? Priceless! And Peter also posts the full Marco Rubio letter on his father’s death. Very moving.

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One Response to #FLSen: Team Meek sheds its new media director (and tries to fend of Charlie)

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