Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek called in to the Tuesday Talk radio show on WMBM, the station owned by Bishop Victor Curry, the NAACP Miami Dade president who last week blasted Alex Sink for skipping the organization’s pre-election political forum. But while Sink’s apology was expected to be the big event on the program, it was Meek who stole the show.
Meek called in after Sink, who declared herself “so sorry” she missed the forum, and who vowed to be at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner this Saturday. Sink, whose campaign had previously said she and her running mate were at a pre-arranged event last Monday, when the forum took place at Curry’s New Birth Baptist Church, said during the show that she was detained by her CFO duties. Curry accepted Sink’s apology, and said he looked forward to seeing her at the dinner.
After that, Republican Lieutenant Gov. candidate Jennifer Carroll called in, reprising her widely praised solo appearance at the NAACP forum, and hammering Sink for being a fair-weather friend to Florida’s black-owned businesses and communities. “She’s had almost four years to bring on black staffers,” Carroll charged, disputing Sink’s assertion that she has hired African-Americans to serve in the CFO’s office. An aggressive Carroll promised to be “as one” with the black community if she and Scott are elected. And the candidate surprised Curry and his audience by putting Scott on the phone.
Scott briefly spoke with Curry, crowing that during the campaign’s bus tour, he’d just stopped for orange juice.
That comment became fodder for Meek, who when his turn came, blasted Scott for talking about “Obamacare” and slamming Sink’s newspaper endorsements as coming only because she’s an “Obama liberal,” but not using that same incendiary language on the radio station, most of whose listeners are black.
Meek said that in contrast to the things Scott says about President Obama on the stump, “he wouldn’t say that on WMBM, because he knows it would be offensive to people. He comes on here and talks about orange juice.”
Comments like that were typical of Meek’s turn at the mike. He dismissed Carroll’s claims that she would be a true partner to Scott.
“I used to drive the lieutenant governor,” Meek said, harkening back to his days as a state trooper, when he became the driver and security for Lieutenant Gov. Buddy McKay. “They’re in a different building. They’re not the governor of the state. It’s not a partnership.” And as for Scott’s claims that “Jennifer” will be a point person in a Rick Scott administration, Meek dismissed such claims saying “she’s not even in the commercials.”
Besides making what CBS 4 reporter Jim Defede, who sat in on the show with Curry, called a better case for Sink than Sink made for herself, Meek argued passionately for his supporters to stick with him despite the polls showing him in third place behind Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican tea party favorite Marco Rubio.
“They’re not polling the people who are going out and working ever day,” Meek said. “I’m not a zombie candidate in this.” And he added, “I’ve seen polls where I’m ahead of (Crist) in the early vote.”
“I’m not a zombie candidate in this,” he said.
Meek said he has been “behind in the polls from birth,” and called on “people of good will” to stay with him. He said he’d been counted out before, including in the primary, and could still win the election if Democrats coalesced behind his candidacy.
Addressing Democrats who are defecting to Crist, Meek said, “”I have more democracy behind my candidacy than anybody else. Qualifying by petition, (and) winning a primary.”
Meek, sounding for the first time in the campaign like a man free of his handlers, spoke passionately about the race, and about the stakes for African-Americans and all members of the middle class if Republicans were to win across the board.
“The combination of Marco Rubio and Rick Scott being elected at the same time would be dangerous for the state of Florida,” Meek said.
Meek had some veiled criticisms for both gubernatorial candidates, pointing out that in the CNN debate, neither one knew Florida’s minimum wage. He said working people are at risk in this election if the country returns to policies that favor only the wealthy.
It was the sole negative turn on the Democratic candidate, who notably, did not reciprocate the endorsement that Meek gave her, when she had her turn on air. In fact, during her several minutes with Curry, Sink never mentioned Meek.
Curry: “I’m proud of him.”
After the interview, Curry expressed pride in Meek’s candidacy, and his performance on the air. “He could be bitter (about party members leaving him for Crist), but he came on here and he made the case for Alex Sink. He was statesmanlike.”
And Curry took a swipe at Democrats who are “propping up” Gov. Crist, who until recently was a Republican, while Republicans are giving 80 percent of their support to Rubio.
“I’m sure moderate Republicans are saying, Rubio is nuts, but he’s a Republican,” Curry said. “If Kendrick was getting 80 percent of Democrats like Rubio is getting Republicans, of course he could win.” Curry called on Democrats to “come home,” and support Meek, saying he’s troubled by his “white Democratic brothers and sisters” who don’t find it amenable to support the only Democrat in the race.
In what will certainly be a relief to the Sink campaign and to Florida Democrats, Curry reversed earlier comments that indicated African-Americans might punish the Sink campaign’s neglect by skipping her name on the ballot.
“I’m going to support Alex Sink. I’m going to vote for her. I’m not going to abandon the Democratic Party,” he said, adding that anything he’s said or done during the campaign has been in an effort to “help her.” Curry’s earlier call had sparked fears that black clergy statewide would push for a “skip Sink on the Ballot” movement statewide, in support of Curry. Several black leaders have expressed disappointment that the Sink campaign has not done more African-American outreach, and that some Florida Democratic leaders have abandoned Meek.
But Curry said that maybe it was the “Democrat in him,” but he could not bring himself to vote for Carroll if it meant electing Scott, who he earlier said “scares the heebie jeebies” of him, because he’s “even more right wing than Jeb Bush.”
“I must admit I like Jennifer Carroll, and if she was the nominee, I might be swayed to vote for her,” Curry said. “But make no mistake, Rick Scott would be the governor (if they win.) … I’m going to stick with my core values as it relates to the Democratic Party.”
But alluding to his earlier complaints about the party taking black voters for granted, Curry added: “I hope the party will reciprocate with us.”