Dear Democrats: Stop telling Kendrick Meek to drop out!

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and President Barack Obama

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Congressman Kendrick Meek. Despite beating back a billionaire primary challenger, and carrying 528,000 voters with him toward November, the Democratic nominee finds himself the target of intensifying drop-out rumors, which have morphed into drop-out requests from fellow Democrats (and some bloggers.) The Democratic Party’s damage control efforts aren’t working. His polling has stalled at around 21 percent, and now, Charlie Crist is breaking out the Kennedys. If you’re Kendrick Meek, it’s enough to make you want to holler. But while the media can’t resist the frenzy of drop-out mania, there are good reasons why Democrats should, and worse, why any vocal attempts to push Meek out of the race are damned near suicidal.

Five reasons why:

1. He’s not dropping out. There’s not a shred of evidence that he ever was, and my own sourcing tells me there’s no way, no how, that a guy who sees himself as having been a fighter his whole life, would turn tail and quit the Senate race two weeks before early voting starts. For that matter, President Obama

2. He couldn’t drop out if he wanted to. Hello? Is this thing on??? The ballots are printed, folks. His name is right there in second place (and Charlie Crist’s is way down in ninth, right there between Rick Tyler and some guy named Lewis Armstrong. The drop-out talk ignores reality. And besides that, it’s not good politics. For the reasons why, let’s move on to reason number…

3. The guy won the freaking primary - From a standpoint of basic fairness, Meek is entitled to see this race through to the end. For gods sakes, what part of “democracy” do these Democratic insta-clubs and one-off “former Meek supporters” not understand?

Let’s just keep it real. Kendrick Meek hasn’t lost the condos. He never had them. Anybody who’s been paying attention knows that Meek’s support has always been iffy in Jeff Greene County (sorry, Palm Beach County) — where Charlie Crist has set up a beachhead, with the help of Team Wexler, among Democrats who haven’t been crazy about Meek from the get-go. The constant threats of “he’d better show me something or I’m backing Crist” didn’t start last week — they started months ago, when the beef was that Meek didn’t visit enough.

4. “Dropout Democrats” are risking a serious rift with African-Americans. Sure, there are plenty of black folk in the burbs who have decided to go Crist. I know a bunch of them. And I expect Charlie to hold his 20 percent of the black vote from 2006, almost without even trying. But that leaves the vast majority of African-Americans who vote this cycle likely to be pulling for Meek. What message does it send to the most loyal base of the Democratic Party, who are crucial in the urban strongholds around Jacksonville, Miami and fort Lauderdale, that leaders of their party are goading the black nominee to drop out and clear the way for the former Republican governor when the going gets tough? The polls say Russ Feingold is losing too, should he drop out? Blanche Lincoln is getting pasted in Arkansas, is there an indie we can throw in to replace her?

Just for a second, do this thought experiment with me: you’re being told that Kendrick Meek — the official winner of the Democratic primary, should quit the race a week before early voting begins, swallow his pride and endorse his opponent who didn’t even win a primary. Worse still, maybe he should accept some totem appointment from the White House in exchange for giving up his right to run. Now, do that though experiment again, only you’re African-American, and you’re old enough to remember what it’s like to be told what you can’t do. Just stop, Democrats, before you wake up and find that a good chunk of your base skipped the election this year. And that brings us to the Big, Fat Bottom Line:

4. Talk of pushing Meek out will hurt Democrats from Alex Sink on down. Quick: name the candidate or issue on the ballot, besides Kendrick Meek, that will drive black voters to the polls… crickets…? Exactly. The top of the statewide ticket is running a No-Obama campaign. The remainder are virtual unknowns. Meek is key to bringing out infrequent African-American voters, not just for himself, but for Sink and all of the races down the ticket. Keep talking about him “dropping out,” and see what kind of turnout that gets you for those races.

Look, I’ve got to hand it to whoever engineered that Wall Street Journal “scoop.” It might have been the play of the campaign, engineered to do just what it’s doing — tank Kendrick Meek by undermining his base, while feeding the media’s yearning for a piece of “hard evidence” on which to hang the Narrative that Florida is a Crist v. Rubio affair. I’m a person who respects smart, hardball politics. Make no mistake, Team Meek has been trying just as hard to end Charlie Crist as the other way around. And even if the governor isn’t personally trying to push Meek out (he’s too smart to do that) the current media feeding frenzy over phantom drop-out chum is just what Dr. Crist (the son, not the father) ordered.

I’ve been saying for months that Democrats need to make up their minds and make a choice between Crist and Meek, and do it soon. But the idea that a choice would be imposed on Meek by the media, Democratic insta-clubs, Democrats who didn’t dig him from Jump Street and some lame writer from the Club for Growth who couldn’t even fake a source or two, strikes me as just plain bad mojo. Not to mention that it makes Democrats look … well … desperate.

Voters are pretty smart. They can read the polls just like we can. Nobody is dropping out of this race. Let the Meek and Crist campaigns play out, and may the best man win.

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18 Responses to Dear Democrats: Stop telling Kendrick Meek to drop out!

  1. Alex says:

    Maybe Meek can get his friends Lincoln, Ileana and Mario to campaign for him? That may move some Crist voters to his camp.

    Snark aside, I agree with you on most points, especially that it will hurt Sink. But it wasn’t a matter of Democrats making up their minds. It was a matter of Meek showing a good case of why he could win from the beginning. He let the race be defined by his opponents. What has been Meek’s message, primary and general, other than the defensive “I’m the real Democrat” in a year where “real Democrat” is a minus?

    The real spoiler for Meek is not Crist, it was Greene who forced him to divide his own base. Yes, he had bad luck drawing an crazy opponent who after the primary is not doing the usual endorsing of the winner for the good of the party, but you can’t tell me his lack of experience fighting and winning primaries isn’t an issue. There has been a nagging feeling that Meek considered the nomination his right and everybody should have fallen in line. He has found out that he needs to cultivate votes, not expect them.

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  3. JReid says:

    Alex,
    Good points.

  4. rikyrah says:

    thank you for this. it’s very much on point. I’m sick of folks telling Meek to drop out.

  5. Todd Stiff says:

    "Let the Meek and Crist campaigns play out, and may the best man win."….the race for second place.Like I said, unless he tells me not to, I'm voting for Meek.

  6. In it to win it says:

    You can almost see Steve Moore with that obnoxious laugh sitting back and saying Mission Accomplished.

    As Joy pointed out early on, this article came from the same guy who founded Club for Growth which is the same group helping to fund Rubio.

    Although the polls may show Meek + Crist > Rubio, there was never a chance that by Meek dropping out and endorsing Crist, all his potential votes would automatically become Crist’s….and that by becoming the lone democrat nominee, Crist would have kept his remaining republican votes and NPAs who are leery of Washington right now.

    Like life, elections do not operate in a vacuum.

  7. Christopher S. Brudy says:

    Just last night, Thursday, Oct. 15th, I heard State Democratic Chair Karen Thurman addressing the Greater St. Petersburg Democratic Club. She reiterated the party’s full fledged backing of Kendrick Meek to the sound of a rousing ovation.

    Kendrick Meek will not run away from a fight, and the base will turn out to support him and the rest of the Democrats.

  8. Betty A Duffy says:

    I am 100 % voting for Kendrick Meek. I would encourage my fellow Dems to do the same. Charlie Crist hasn’t done a whole lot for us in the past. What makes you think he will in the future?

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  10. Faye Davis says:

    Kendrick Meek has a right to run in this race. The so-called Democrats that refuse to support one of their own will leave a bad taste in people’s mouth’s for years to come and it will not be forgotten. In Meek you have someone that has supported working families throughout his entire career, yet how is he rewarded. By having Democrats like the hypocrite RFK not only jump on the Crist bandwagon but then try and tell us who can’t win. Who the H— is RFK! Someone should tell RFK, Wexler and all the other Democrats supporting Crist, that even if and I know he will not, but even if Meek were to drop out no one running for senate will get my vote. And I know I speak for many others when I say that. So this notion that we would all run to Crist is highly mistaken. Betty I agree with you, I am 100% voting for Kendrick Meek!

  11. JReid says:

    Faye, I don’t want people to conclude from this post that I am attacking RFKJ or Wexler or anyone else who chooses to support Charlie Crist. I think Democrats have a right to make their own decisions about who they support. My problem is with people who go out front and call for Meek to quit. Doing so publicly is bad politics, and dumb, for the reasons I stated. But people are making what they see as the best rational decision for them in this race. They’re free to do so, IMHO.

    But you illustrate the danger in seeming to organize an effort to push Meek out.

  12. MA says:

    This “so-called democrats” stuff is really offensive to me. I’m a democrat and I’m VERY annoyed that we’re going to let a teabagger get elected to represent us because we are being stubborn. This is very simple: Meek can’t win no matter what, and with the three of them in the race, Rubio will win. Meek should take one for the team and drop out.

  13. Dan says:

    Just voted.
    I voted for Crist.
    As MA said, Meek cannot win.
    At this point, we should be concerned about keeping Rubio out of the Senate seat, and not party purity.

  14. SAM, Hollywood FL says:

    Please people, what does taking one for the team mean??…Crist splits the votes for Republicans as much or even more so than he does for the Dems!! We tend to forget the most of Meeks/ Dem supporters are young who don’t carry landlines for polling. Recent Cell Phone regulations limit cell phone polling!! Please don’t follow polls as it did the same for Prez Obama. Polls had Meeks losing in the Primary to Jeff Greene which he won handily by over 70%. In some precints Greene didn’t even get 1 vote!! With this attitude of supporting Crist will def have Rubio sliding into the Senate seat which we cannot allow. Remeber Crist is a Republican who is pilfering off a lot of votes from Rubio, don’t give him any from Meeks. Let Republicans split their votes so Meeks CAN slide into the Senate Seat…DON’T LISTEN TO THE POLLS..They never gave him a chance before and he won in Jeff Greene’s own precinct!!!!

  15. Gloria Bandy says:

    We must defeat Rubio Crist has the better chance of doing that. Hold your nose and vote Crist.

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  18. tony smith says:

    So – happy now??? He should have dropped out. Florida is an insane state. Governor Scott and Rubio. What a mess. But Meek got to run. REally cool. What a civil rights victory. — Angry Black Man

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