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Tuesday, July 07, 2009
The takeaway: Meek and Charlie each raise $3 mil
Kendrick Meek sent out one of those "thank you for your support" emails this morning to his contributors, which contained the not surprising news that he has raised more than $3 million so far this year. With no real opposition, the question is whether a sense of urgency will grip Democrats not already enamored of the campaign's self-described "movement." In short, are softer potential supporters scared enough of Charlie Crist to keep digging deep during a recession?

Look for the July 12 campaign reports to be .... well ... interesting. Both Meek and Crist will report raising more than $3 mil -- Meek pulled in $1.8 million in the first quarter and $1.2 million or so in the second, while Charlie did the same in six weeks flat. The biggest difference: Crist will have to spend real money on a primary challenge, with all due respect to Bob Smith, from Marco Rubio and his band of mama's basement-dwelling bloggers, Club for Growth losers and tea party weirdos who think Barack Obama is like Adolf Hitler ... who may be funny to normal people, but who can at least help Marco raise some money ... while Kendrick can probably keep his spending down, and keep coasting along with his "petition tour," whose real aim is to pick up some name I.D. outside of Miami.

BTW, one thing that could explode the GOP Senate primary? A Sarah Palin endorsement, either way.

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posted by JReid @ 11:17 AM  
Sunday, June 14, 2009
In case you missed it: Crist comfortably ahead in Florida, so far
The righties may not like it, but Charlie Crist still looks like a pretty good bet for Florida's GOP Senate nomination. A June 10 Quinnipiac poll finds him way ahead of Marco Rubio, and far ahead of Kendrick Meek in a general election match-up to boot. The same polls show Florida's political Don Quixote, Bill McCollum, surprisingly close of the less well known Alex Sink for governor, but the undecided in that race is a whopping 30 percent, meaning it's probably Sink who has more room to grow. The Qinnipiac poll finds that Crist's popularity is holding up, and even exceeds that of the president:
Gov. Charlie Crist swamps former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio 54 - 23 percent in the 2010 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Kendrick Meek, a Congressman from South Florida, leads the field for the Democratic Senate nomination with 18 percent, followed by two other members of Florida's congressional delegation, Corrine Brown with 12 percent and Ron Klein with 8 percent. But 57 percent of voters say they don't yet have a candidate in the race, according to the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey.

President Barack Obama remains very popular in the state of Florida with a 58 - 35 percent job approval rating. That compares to the less than 52 percent he received in Florida last November.

Obama's job approval rating, however, trails that of Gov. Crist, whose strength across the political spectrum would make him a difficult candidate to beat in a general election for the U.S. Senate. Crist has a 62 - 28 percent job approval rating overall, including a 59 - 30 percent thumbs-up from Democrats.

"Marco Rubio says there are many Florida Republicans who don't want Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate. Depending on how you define the word 'many,' he might be correct. Unfortunately for Rubio at this stage, many, many, many more favor Crist," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
For Meek, the big news is that no one really knows him or his current Democratic opponents (which is why he's doing that statewide petition drive.) Says Qpac:
While Meek is slightly ahead in a Democratic Senate primary, 80 percent of voters statewide, including 74 percent of Democrats, don't know enough about him to form an opinion. Brown and Klein do no better.
Meanwhile Quinnipiac finds Alex Sink slightly ahead of McCollum, 38 to 34 percent:
Sink leads 72-11 among Democrats, while McCollum leads 72-5 among Republicans and 32-27 among independents.

Eleven percent of voters said that the possibility of Sink being Florida's first female governor makes them more likely to vote for her. Eighty-one percent said it didn't matter.

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posted by JReid @ 7:29 PM  
Sunday, May 31, 2009
In Florida Senate race, Democrats fall in line
You know that old saying (I think I first heard it from Bill Clinton,) that "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line?" Well... Democrats are starting to fall like Republicans. I didn't make the Jefferson Jackson dinner last night (what can I say, my A/C broke, and in Florida, that takes priority, even over politics. BTW if you need a good air conditioning guy, call me!) but I did get the news, via a text message last night, that Dan Gelber, the favorite of liberals in the U.S. Senate race, is dropping out ... er ... "stepping back" ... from the Senate race. (Alex Sink can't be thrilled that what was supposed to be a love-fest for her gubernatorial run got upstaged by Camp Kendrick...)

I'm not surprised. I've heard rumors that Gelber would probably go for weeks, though I'm not sure if it's a matter of fundraising, or ... um ... pressure (he apparently was getting it, including from the DSCC.) And as a loyal Democrat, he probably wanted to do what the party wants, which is to clear the field so the party can focus on just one candidate. Besides, Gelber was in a no-win situation. He is even less well known statewide than his opponent, and he was up against two formidable and enmeshed political machines: the Meek machine on the local level and the Clinton machine, whose obvious star power and fundraising tentacles reach deep into the Sunshine state. Gelber was struggling to raise money, and Meek has the endorsement of major unions and other prime political sources of cash. the "Kendrick Meek for Florida" campaign raised about $1.5 million through March 31st, according to his federal campaign disclosures, while Gelber had taken in just $363,000. There is a third candidate in the race, North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns. Um ... good luck with that, dude. (He had raised about $17,000 bucks as of March 31st.) Whatever the reason, Gelber is out. Meek's camp has released this statement:
“Dan Gelber is the model public servant guided by a lifelong pursuit of truth. I’d wish Dan luck in any endeavor that he pursues, but he doesn’t need luck. Dan’s intellect, dedication to justice and sense of fairness will serve him and our state well no matter his pursuit. He is a friend who puts party first and his message to Florida Democrats that we must unify around a slate of candidates is a powerful statement that I wholeheartedly embrace. Dan is a natural leader who will continue to serve our state with distinction in any capacity he chooses and our party is better off because of him.“
... which mirrors Gelber's statement that he's tired of the Democratic "circular firing squad" that normally occurs during elections. Since he hasn't been "fired at" as yet, I for one, am wondering what exactly he means. And personally, I think the "circular firing squad" during a certain Democratic presidential primary made our current president a better general election candidate. BTW Gelber even got a tweet-out from former State Senate colleague Marco Rubio.

Welcome to the new Democratic World Order. BTW this comes during the same week when Ed Rendell essentially threatened Joe Sestak that he'd get "killed" (politically, I assume) if he runs against the establishment candidate, Republican ... I mean Democrat... Arlen Specter, in the PA primary. Democracy, you've gotta love it!

I hate to mirror the ravings of RedState, but these days, the Democratic Party feels an awful lot like the GOP, which generally prefers coronations to primaries. That said, clearing the way for politicians to run for office without actually having to RUN, is already the way things often work in Black politics from what I've seen in Florida (if you can find me a Black person within 100 miles of here who would dare to oppose a sitting Black politician in South Florida publicly, I'll give you, and them, $100. $200 if it's a preacher...) Congressman Meek has never had a serious opponent since he won his mother Carrie Meek's House seat in 2002, and he has benefited from the fact that people down here are loathe to oppose Carrie Meek, whom I would have to say is the single most influential Black person in South Florida, even in retirement from politics. So it's little wonder that the rest of the party would catch on.

On a practial level, Meek had about a hundred assets that Gelber didn't. He benefits from his friendship with former president Clinton, whose wife Meek supported in the Democratic primary, even as the vast majority of Black folks, including in his district, backed Barack Obama (he was far from alone in that regard.) The payback for that support is obvious: Bill Clinton is Kendrick's most prolific and high-profile, fundraiser. It's very hard, if not impossible, to beat that. Ironically, when pressed about sticking with Hillary as it became clear she would lose the Democratic nomination, Kendrick said this:
"There's a chorus of folks saying 'Oh well, saying let's end this right now... But we're Democrats, not Republicans. We believe in Democratic primaries playing themselves out."
So much for that. And while Gelber supported Barack Obama early on, he never found a way to capitalize on that fact, while Meek up and hired Obama's deputy campaign director Steve Hildebrand, to run his campaign. So Meek got the best of both worlds: Obama's turnout guru and Hillary's money people.

So far, the reaction to Gelber's exit within the Florida netroots has ranged from pragmatic to harsh, (this diary was apparently harsh too, before it was deleted...) and Gelber will likely be a candidate for attorney general (my guess is that he was told by -- fill in the blanks as you prefer -- that he would do better to withdraw, try for A.G., thereby receive the backing of the right money people, and give the party the time and space to fight the big fish: Charlie Crist, or to drive him out of the race, too... ahem ...) so progressives will still have him to kick around. That is sound political practice from the standpoint of winning elections, and to be honest, I don't relish the idea of Democrats shredding each other during a primary. But you'd think that in a democracy, we could come up with a way to have a spirited debate, and then let rank and file Democrats pick our nominee. Hell, it worked in 2007/2008, and while it got ugly -- mostly because the Clintons made it ugly -- we wound up winning the race with a tough, tested canddate. Just my two cents.

BTW don't get too geeked up out there about the idea of Corinne Brown supposedly exploring her own run for Senate. I seriously doubt the seriousness. She and Kendrick swim in the same Black establishment political waters, and I suspect she will be swiftly talked down from that particular exploration. Besides, what would be her point of difference with Kendrick? She supported Hillary Clinton, too, so she wouldn't have that issue to use against him with Black voters. The only difference would be regional, and from what I hear, Rep. Meek has already sown up the key endorsements and money people in Rep. Brown's neck of the woods.

Meanwhile, as things get easier for Kendrick, they're getting tougher for Charlie. (On Michael Putney's show this morning, Meek mused that Charlie Crist might not even be his opponent in 2010. Not likely, but not impossible either. One can only imagine what the Clinton oppo research veterans have in store for Mr. Crist. Meek's best scenario would be to face what he has faced in the past -- a non-opponent. And I'm assuming his camp believes that non-opponent to be Marco Rubio.

UPDATE: Watch Gelber's "Stepping Back" speech, courtesy of Larry Thorsen:



UPDATE 2: The Orlando Sentinel's Jane Healy speaks my mind, though in her case, about the governor's race:
This may be good from a political fundraising perspective, saving all the money for the 2010 general election. But it hurts the voters. Without a challenge from someone within their own party, candidates get away with taking fewer stands on important issues. Voters ought to rebel and insist that the candidates answer some tough questions.

... This could be where the lack of a primary hurts most. It will be hard to tell whether the candidates have any backbone since they will automatically get money from the traditional interest groups. For Democrats, the unions and the trial lawyers are those key constituencies. For Republicans, it's the business community. At least Crist had to run in a hotly contested primary before being elected, exposing his real differences with the conservative wing of the party.

And with no real primaries, you can forget about debates for a long time. The candidates will probably be able to escape them until after Labor Day 2010, when the general-election season kicks in. Oh, well.

Oh well, indeed.

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posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
Friday, April 17, 2009
The Herald dissects Meek's fundraising
Let me start out by saying that I don't have a dog in the Florida U.S. Senate fight. But do you ever get the idea the Miami Herald is, shall we say, a bit cynical about a certain second-generation politician running for the job? From today's paper:

For Senate race, Kendrick Meek is raising big money from out of state

At a recent campaign rally, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami branded his U.S. Senate bid a ''grassroots campaign,'' boasting of more than 1,000 donors in Florida.

''The more Floridians that we have who are stakeholders in this campaign sends a message, a message that we're here to do business on behalf of working people,'' he told about 100 supporters in the parking lot of a small Hallandale Beach diner.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state corporate interests and Washington lobbyists also have helped Meek -- the only Florida Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee -- emerge as a fundraising powerhouse with nearly $1.5 million in donations. Democratic party officials say he appears to have raised more than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate nationwide.

''When you are in a leadership position like he is, you do develop relationships with people all over the country,'' said Ana Cruz, a senior advisor to the campaign. ``It's a testament to the number of people who believe in him in and outside of the state.''

Cruz notes that Meek received support from more than 800 Florida donors who gave less than $200 each. ''Those are dollars from working-class folks from all over,'' she said.

Since he began his campaign in mid-January, Meek accepted $293,000 from political action committees representing law firms, drug companies, payday lenders and other businesses. PAC donations also came from Democratic Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California. In total, 44 percent of Meek's money came from outside Florida.

In contrast, 10 percent of the money raised by Meek's leading Democratic rival, state Sen. Dan Gelber, came from other states. He received $9,500 from political action committees.

Stipulating that we are talking about an off-year election, but just 100 supporters? By Obama rally standards what's that, about 2 people? Another bite:

His campaign calculated that he raised nearly $17,000 a day in the first three months of the year. His total even surpassed Democratic incumbents like Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

At the Hallandale Beach rally on Monday, Meek suggested his aggressive approach takes its cue from the president's record-setting campaign -- though Barack Obama did not accept money from federal lobbyists and political action committees.

Much of that power fundraising is coming from Kendrick palling around with Bill Clinton (they are sharing another "Thelma and Louise" moment at the upcoming commencement at FAMU, and Clinton has been hitting the streets for Kendrick since day one, as have Big Bill's major Florida fundraisers.) And they left out the fact that taking cues from Obama is ironic given the fact that had Meek had his way, Obama would be Hillary Clinton's secretary of state, rather than the other way around ...

A review of Meek's campaign report due at the FEC on Wednesday found he spent more than $200,000 on cell phones, catering, a website, plane tickets and consulting. He paid more than $14,000 for a private jet to fly former President Bill Clinton to Florida for a fundraiser.

Meek's expenses also included $428 on a ''campaign dinner'' at the Biltmore Hotel, $177 at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Washington and $149 at Houston's in Miami. ''Some of these are strategy sessions and some are cultivating donor relationships,'' Cruz said.

One of the Democratic congressman's biggest donors is the political arm of Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens-based security company that retains his mother and wife as lobbyists. Wackenhut gave Meek the maximum donations of $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election. Miami-Dade County has accused Wackenhut of overbilling; the company denies any wrongdoing.

Meek -- who would be Florida's first black senator if elected -- also received big donations from former officers of the Congressional Black Caucus and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Individual donors can give a maximum of $2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election.

Cue the Dan Gelber email campaign ... though so far, they've been as quiet as a mouse.

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posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Monday, March 16, 2009
The changeling: Meek becomes Obama
Meek's campaign says: when you think Kendrick, think Barack.

If he (and many other Black pols) had gotten his way, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. But politics is about the future, not the past, and Kendrick Meek's future has a whooooole lotta Barack in it.

Meek, who I hear plans to raise $25 million or more for his Senate run, already has Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who parked in South Florida for the final stretch of the campaign, on the payroll. Combine that with the Clinton fundraising machine in Miami and beyond (including Timbaland neighbor Chris Korge,) and longtime union friends like SEIU (who surprise! have endorsed him already) and Meek just might pull off that $25 mil and run away with the primary (recent polling here and here). But this campaign solicitation with Hildebrand's name on it might make some die-hard Obamaniacs chuckle:

Dear Joy-Ann,

I was fortunate to spend the final weeks of Barack Obama's campaign in Florida. The experience is one I won't forget -- the inspiration I felt from voters there was unique. My time in the state also gave me the chance to meet great leaders who worked tirelessly to help elect our President.

One leader in particular stood out, and that is Congressman Kendrick Meek. [Emphasis added] He inspired me. His commitment and dedication to helping Barack Obama win the presidency made a real difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kendrick for all that he did to help win those 27 critical electoral votes.

The Florida victory was long overdue -- you all know it better than I do. The results of the November 4 elections give Floridians the chance to capitalize on the momentum it provided. So when Kendrick decided to run for the U.S. Senate and make the bold move to get out there early, I asked myself, "Where do I sign up?" ...

... and can they afford my fee!? (spoiler alert: "yes they can.") Okay, maybe that's too cynical. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and its possible that Obama supporters no longer care who supported whom during the primary. In fact, most people probably don't. And by Obamatizing his campaign, Kendrick hopes to capitalize on the excitement of the 2008 campaign, particularly among black voters, which is smart. He's also hitting up Obama donors early, the better to raise that $25 mil. Smart times two. And he's going big early to get his name recognition up. Smart move number three.

Still, the idea that Meek was the bestest of all the pro-Obama leaders will likely come as a surprise to Robert Wexler, who was the first politician to endorse Obama in Florida, or to State Sen. Fredrica Wilson (now running for Meek's House seat) who worked tirelessly for Obama dating back to 2007, when she pointedly asked me in August of that year during an interview, how any Black elected official could fail to support an intelligent, qualified candidate like Obama; or to State Sen. Dan Gelber, Meek's main primary opponent at the moment (unless Pam Iorio or Ron Klein get in,) who also endorsed Obama during the primary, and whose campaign manager, Steve Schale, ran the Florida for Obama campaign, or to Manny Diaz or Miami Gardens Mayor Shirly Gibson or all the other pols who stumped for Obama for like, ever.

Then again, it's possible that nobody remembers or cares about any of that stuff, either.

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posted by JReid @ 12:16 PM  
Thursday, February 12, 2009
An uh-oh for Florida Dems
A new Strategic Vision poll shows Charlie Crist demolishing the field if he gets into the Senate race (think he doesn't know that?)

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) looms hugely over his state’s open Senate race, holding 2-to-1 leads over all Democrats interested in the race, according to a new Strategic Vision poll.

The poll finds the popular governor, who will wait until after Florida’s legislative session to make his plans known, leading Democratic Reps. Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek by 34 points each.

He leads state Sen. Dan Gelber 58 percent to 27, and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio 57 percent to 29.

The independent poll, set to be released Thursday, was conducted by a GOP-leaning firm.
The Meek people will probably dismiss the poll as a GOP leaner, but the reality is, Gallup is a GOP leaning poll, and so is Mason-Dixon. Even if Strategic is off by 10 points, it's a tough poll to swallow. More details:

The poll shows Klein would lead a primary between the four of them, but with only 12 percent of the vote and with 66 percent of primary voters undecided. None of the four has a sizable statewide profile.

In a GOP primary with four other candidates, Crist is at 54 percent, while Rep. Connie Mack is at 16 percent.

Mack, who could benefit from having the same name as his father, a two-term senator, leads a Crist-less primary, taking 21 percent. Rep. Vern Buchanan takes second, with 11 percent, while former state House Speakers Allan Bense and Marco Rubio are at 8 and 5 percent, respectively.

Mack leads all four Democrats in head-to-head general election match-ups, while Buchanan, Bense and Rubio are all neck-and-neck with the Democrats.

“Buchanan and Rubio have problems despite being in the news a lot recently,” Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson said. “Buchanan could, with money, buy name ID, but would need to attack Mack. Bense could be a sleeper.”

Among the Democrats, Iorio and Klein run best in the general election.

In almost every race without Crist, though, about half of those polled are undecided.

Johnson said Iorio looks strong for the general election but could have trouble in the primary.

“Meek has a ceiling of support of about 25 percent, and it’s hard to see him winning the primary,” Johnson said. “Klein and Gelber have the most potential but could cross each other out.”
That's what you call an uh-oh... Here are the numbers:
1. Whom would you support for the Democratic nomination for United Senate, if the choices were Dan Gelber, Pam Iorio, Kendrick Meek, and Ron Klein?
Ron Klein 12%
Kendrick Meek 10%
Pam Iorio 8%
Dan Gelber 4%
Undecided 66%

2. Whom would you support for the Republican nomination for United States Senate, if the choices were Alan Bense, Vern Buchanan, Charlie Crist, Connie Mack IV, and Marco Rubio?
Charlie Crist 54%
Connie Mack IV 16%
Vern Buchanan 10%
Alan Bense 7%
Marco Rubio 4%
Undecided 9%

3. Whom would you support for the Republican nomination for United States Senate, if the choices were Alan Bense, Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack IV, and Marco Rubio?
Connie Mack IV 21%
Vern Buchanan 11%
Alan Bense 8%
Marco Rubio 5%
Undecided 55%

4. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Ron Klein, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 58%
Ron Klein 24%
Undecided 18%

5. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Kendrick Meek, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 60%
Kendrick Meek 26%
Undecided 14%

6. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Pam Iorio, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 57%
Pam Iorio 29%
Undecided 14%

7. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Dan Gelber, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 58%
Dan Gelber 27%
Undecided 15%

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 AM  
Monday, February 02, 2009
Gelber gets a progressive nod
A banner ad right atop the Huffpo endorses Dan Gelber as the "progressive choice"(according to the folks at Down With Tyranny, anyway...) for Florida's soon-to-be-open Senate seat:
With all the ugliness and sleaze surrounding the appointments of new senators in Illinois and New York, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Delaware and Colorado, it's refreshing to see Florida cranking up for a good old fashioned election-- you know, where voters decide who the senator should be. In the afterglow of McCain's loss in the Sunshine State (plus the loss of two GOP congressional incumbents, a state legislature that is turning less and less red every year, and some sketchy-looking polls) conservative Republican incumbent Mel Martinez decided to retire in 2010.

The first choices among party Insiders-- Jeb Bush for Repugs and Alex Sink for Democrats-- have passed on the opportunity. That leaves the race wide open for both party primaries. This morning the hopes of Florida progressives was answered when state Senator Dan Gelber tossed his hat into the ring.

Dan isn't well-known outside of Florida but he is far better known in his state than most local legislators. That's because until November-- when he was elected to the state Senate-- he was the Democratic Minority Leader of the state House. And a very outspoken one at that. Before that he worked as a federal prosecutor, mostly on corruption and civil rights cases. He worked in the U.S. Senate as the staff director of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Sam Nunn (D-GA).
It's very true that Gelber isn't that well known, and that Meek will have the advantage of Steve Hildebrand's turnout machine (which he used on behalf of Barack Obama in the recent election.) It remains to be seen if the Meek people can turn the Obama excitement into excitement for them. (Personally, I rather doubt that the Obama phenomenon can be recreated for anybody but Barack, but I'll wait and see how they roll it out. BTW check out the comments at the bottom of the DWT post. Brutal...) As for Gelber, he seems like a longshot to me, but then again, in a wide open race, a progressive candidate will have a shot. Another disadvantage though, he will be up against two major political machines: the Meek machine, and the Clinton machine. The former president was in town last week raising $300k for Kendrick. And the campaign, according to sources, hopes to raise more than $25 million for the run. Can Gelber match that with the help of the left end of the blogosphere? We shall see.

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posted by JReid @ 4:33 PM  
Monday, January 12, 2009
Meek expected to jump into the Senate race tomorrow
Just got a press release. Kendrick Meek is holding a press conference tomorrow morning to make an announcement regarding the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sideshow Mel Martinez. Does anybody know what's on Alex Sink's public schedule tomorrow...? I have calls out to a couple of sources to find out if I should burn the gas to be at the presser...

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posted by JReid @ 3:17 PM  
Thursday, June 05, 2008
The pivot
There's a thing in politics that you might call "the pivot." It's when you're on what might be an unpopular side of an issue, and then, as if by magic, you're on the right side (or the same side as your constituents, or more to the point, the winning side...) I just got a tip that the Florida Democratic delegation, all of whom were Clinton backers, will endorse Barack Obama en masse today. There will be no press availability (and no questions), just a statement.

The delegation includes three Congressional Black Caucus members, Kendrick Meek, whose district went 55% to 40% for Barack, Corinne Brown, whose district favored Obama 58.1% to 30% and Alcee Hastings, whose district was Obamafied by a 52.1% to 41.2% margin, all of whom will make the switch, along with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most vigorous of the Florida Clinton backers (with the possible exception of Brown), whose district is the only one of the four to favor Mrs. Clinton (62.7% to 25.3%). (I also hear that Wasserman Schultz is part of a letter campaign coming from inside Congress to try and shoehorn Hillary onto the ticket as Obama's vice president. Note to whoever: that's what you might call "unhelpful.")

The other members of the delegation include Kathy Castor, who was already for Obama. Robert Wexler is not only already an Obama endorser, he's the official "Obama Guy," and the man who stole the show at Saturday'http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifs Rules Committee meeting... Sen. Bill Nelson, who was for Clinton, and Ron Klein (Boca) and Tim Mahoney (Palm Beach Gardens) were still uncommitted as of Monday.

This comes on the heels of the New York Congressional delegation making the move earlier this afternoon, led by the fabulous Charlie Rangel, who Chris Matthews was absolutely right in saying has the best New York accent EVER.

The Florida switch will be interesting news in the black community, where just today, a prominent Democratic activist told me they were planning to write an op-ed piece demanding that the black members respect the votes of their districts (just to show that turnabout is fair play, Robert Wexler's district favored Hillary in the primary, and he's taking some heat from some older, Jewish voters there for supporting Barack ...)

Georgia's John Lewis, who made a pain-filled switch to Obama earlier this year, has been all over TV as a born-again Obama supporter. He is the logical choice to introduce Barack at the nominating convention, where Obama will give his acceptance speech on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. By switching earlier in the year, he fended off a primary challenge, tamped down a revolt among voters in his district, and had to say no to longtime friend Bill Clinton.

The pressure has always been on HRC's black supporters, though the really beligerent ones like Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio caught the most flak. Charlie Rangel I think has gotten a pass, because he was the one who pushed Hillary to run for the Senate in the first place, and probably for the White House, and because the New York delegation made its endorsement of her as a NY "favorite daughter" and as a group. There was no one left hanging out there. But I can't tell you how much grumbling I've heard and read online about the others.

Now, they start trying to put the primary behind them, as Mrs. Clinton does too.

UPDATE: The endorsement statement, from Corinne Brown, Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been released. It reads in part:
“It is with enthusiasm and excitement that we endorse Barack Obama for president.

“We are looking forward to working with Senator Obama in the days, weeks, and months ahead. America cannot afford another four years of failed Republican leadership, and we are committed to doing anything and everything in our power to ensure that Barack Obama is elected the next President of the United States.

“We also ask Senator Obama to do everything in his power to see to it that Florida has a full delegation to the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.

“We congratulate Senator Clinton for a hard-fought campaign. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would have the choice of a woman or an African American for the office of the presidency. We hope Americans realize how much the two of them have done for our country during this campaign. America is, indeed, a better place for having the two of them run for the highest office in the land.


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posted by JReid @ 3:05 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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