The Florida Senate race goes from bizarre to ridiculous

Is Charlie Crist going all Ginny Thomas on Kendrick Meek?

So… Kendrick Meek has gone from saying he never ever had a conversation with anybody, especially former President Clinton, to admitting that he and Clinton kinda-sorta talked about the metaphysical concept of someone much like him theoretically dropping out of a race on the ethereal plane of unreality, to playing voicemails of Charlie Crist asking to meet with him about dropping out of the Senate race? Can we just call off the election now and all go home?

Related: Oh for Crist’s sake … Adviser says Charlie would definitely caucus with Dems

Back to the ridiculousness…

From the Wall Street Journal — a strange place to deposit a scoop, given their history with Team Meek and the whole “drop-out” thing:

Florida independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist personally lobbied Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to exit the race this week, offering him a cross that had been a gift from his sister, Mr. Meek said Friday.

The gesture occurred Monday as Mr. Crist and Mr. Meek were surrounded by local Jewish leaders at a Hollywood, Fla., meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“I was shocked when he did it,” Mr. Meek said in an interview late Friday. “I told him to keep the cross and that I carry my Christianity in my heart.”

Crist spokesman Danny Kanner said he would not comment on a private conversation.

Mr. Meek’s account is the latest turn in an increasingly twisted tale of political intrigue.

Mr. Crist, the Florida governor, had called Mr. Meek, a Miami congressman, earlier that morning, about 4:50 a.m., leaving a voice mail asking if they could meet up at the AIPAC gathering. “I’ll call you later this morning and see if we can work out a time to get together just you and me,” Mr. Crist said in the voice mail, which was played for Washington Wire by Mr. Meek. “Take care, buddy.”

Mr. Meek was scheduled to speak at AIPAC about 8:30 and Mr. Crist at 10, but the governor showed up an hour early in hopes of catching the congressman.

Mr. Meek said he tried to avoid Mr. Crist, but as he left the stage, “there he was, right in front of me.”

“He said, ‘If you were to drop out and work with me and help me we together can beat Marco Rubio,’” Mr. Meek recalled. “I said, ‘Governor, that’s a non-starter.’

“Then he dug down into his pocket and pulled a small cross out,” Mr. Meek continued. “He said his sister gave it to him and he wanted to give it to me so I would think about it.”

… Mr. Crist, on the early-morning voice mail, described himself as a “night owl.” Mr. Meek said he was asleep when the call came in.“For him to call me at four something in the morning, you know something’s not right,” Mr. Meek said.

What is this, a stalking case? Meek also says Crist was calling him all weekend. What the hell?

Team Meek is obviously looking to paint Crist as a desperate man (something they’re clearly succeeding at, and which the Rubio team is eagerly helping to reinforce) –  and sources inside Meekworld insist their internal polling shows them beating Crist so far in early voting. But since nobody’s internal polls show Meek — or Crist, for that matter — beating the front-runner, Marco Rubio, what good does it do Meek to keep this story alive? Politico has neither taken down nor retracted its story, which still states that Meek left at least three people — all of them Democrats — with the impression that he was taking a dive.

Answer: sparking increased black turnout and generating base excitement around Meek, which the candidate had failed to do previously. Now, black voters in particular, but also liberal Democrats who might have been on the fence, have a reason to vote for Kendrick with a vengeance. I heard anecdotal evidence of that happening on Friday, particularly in Meek’s home base of Miami Gardens, where a source described the lines as wrapped around the library — “not quite Obama-like, but very long lines.” Ironically, this story might just have been a godsend to the Meek campaign.

Cue Alcee Hastings, with Jeb Bush and Michael Steele gleefully singing back-up on the new storyline: Charlie Crist is trying to run the black guy AND the Hispanic guy out of Senate contention. Oy vey…

What’s not clear though, is how this changes the overall dynamics of the race — namely the fact that Meek and Crist, stalking or no stalking, deal or no deal, are simply annihilating each other for the benefit of Mr. Rubio.

There are going to be terrible recriminations when the smoke clears from this election, Rubio is being shortlisted for the White House, and black and white Democrats are pointing fingers at each other across the transom blaming each other for the loss. Will the Meeks blame the Kennedys, Crists, Butterworths and Obamas? Will the Obamas and the Palm Beach Democrats blame the Meeks? Will the Crists just chuck it all and move to Georgetown???

Meanwhile, as a friend of mine in mediaworld said to me tonight, how could Florida Democrats could so screw things up, when the state party is flush from victory in 2008, has raised tons of the money, which erased the Republican advantage, and when the state party they’re facing are almost all under investigation by the FBI and IRS … including Marco Rubio??? You begin to wonder if Democrats can even play this game…

It will be interesting to see who still has a chair when the music stops.

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7 Responses to The Florida Senate race goes from bizarre to ridiculous

  1. Pingback: Timeline: the Clinton-Meek-Crist ‘Dropout’ caper **UPDATE** : The Reid Report

  2. rewinn says:

    Too bad! A Senate with FOUR Independents (Lieberman, Sanders, Murkowski, Crist) might make the duopoly shudder,

  3. Please keep up a drumbeat about the Democratic Party infrastructure, its leadership on the party payroll (along with other lobbying interests) and the matter of public attention on the politicians over the party leaders, who are the ones who truly get a FAIL when the bottom falls out.

  4. Rupert says:

    It’s an interesting thought, Rewinn, but Murkowski, Lieberman and Crist only ran as independents because they couldn’t win their primary. Sanders is a sold ally of the Democrats. Don’t wish for a British-type system.

  5. Jean says:

    I am disgusted with the whole lot of them at this point. I voted for Meek, but I want my damn vote back! Meek is sounding like a 13 year old valley girl (no disrespect to 13 year olds intended). Charlie called me – like- at 5 am (squealing) can you believe it (rolling eyes) — then as if that weren’t enough he stalked me at the event (pregnant pause to allow listener squealing). Then (at a whisper), he even gave me some stupid cross that he said was his sisters (hissing sound at sisters). Please spare me the histrionics. I don’t care what the other bleeping candidate did yesterday – what are YOU going to do for me when you get to Washington ?

  6. Barb in Atl says:

    Jean,

    Meeks really doesn’t have a choice. Crist got this story out there and Meeks has to prove that he’s not lying when he says that he didn’t make plans to drop out and endorse Crist. It seems childish, but this is the garbage Meeks has faced from the beginning – 1) nobody paying attention, 2) dem support for Crist, and 3) Meeks having to prove that he deserves to be in the race even though HE won his primary. Most of the ire needs to be heaped on Crist for trying ot push / shame Meeks out of the race.

  7. Jean says:

    Barb,

    First, it is Meek, not Meeks. I am not arguing that Kendrick Meek doesn’t have a right to be mad, but I fully disagree on his tactic of personally releasing that voicemail. Have your campaign leak it — or a “disinterested party”, but for heaven’s sake don’t let the candidate engage in a childish cat fight with another candidate. Secondly, in my opinion, Meek didn’t have the name recognition he needed to run an aggressive campaign with not much money. The democrats ran the numbers once Charlie Crist got into the race and they knew it would be an uphill battle for a relative unknown to win in a 3-way race with two other very well-known personalities. Right or wrong, fair on not, that is just the way it is. I was rooting for the guy in September, but frankly I was seriously disappointed in his campaign by October.

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