A message received just moments ago from within the local Young Democrats suggests a dramatic new development in the race to succeed Florida’s retiring junior senator, Mel Martinez. Already Rep. Kendrick Meek has led the way to capturing the Democratic nomination, but apparently he’s about to face some serious competition in the form of fellow Rep. Corrine Brown, who has held her spot in Congress since 1992 and in fact developed as politician alongside Kendrick’s mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek.
Brown brings considerable DC experience, while Meek can claim to have played a crucial role in helping President Obama win Florida, and the nation, in 2008. He has already appeared with Obama in Fort Myers, where the latter was selling his economic “stimulus” package (in the company of none other than Governor Charlie Crist, whose diminished profile among state Republicans has been balanced by the bipartisan support offered by the new administration) and is reportedly soon to appear in Jacksonville with former president Bill Clinton. It will be interesting to see if that does happen, given Brown’s longtime association with the Clintons. She and Bill both took office in 2003, and the Clinton-era budget appropriations allowed Brown to develop her lead slogan, “Corrine Delivers!”
Delivery is what it’s all about in that business, and while Meek has earned a positive record during his run in Congress, he will have a hard time convincing Democratic power-brokers (especially up here, in the northern part of the state) that he can bring home more money during these delicate financial times than Brown. But then again, a lot of Dems have never liked Brown–she talks too much like the southern black woman she is, and nothing raises the ire of the college-crowd liberals like the southern dialiect–unless it’s being cynically appropriated by Obama, that is.
This primary could demonstrate whether there is any lingering beef between the Obamas and Clintons. If Meek is the president’s man, the Clintons could show off their sustained stroke by backing Corrine against him. If Clinton fails to back Corrine’s US Senate run explicitly, and makes that gig with Meek, then she will be just the latest woman to be used up and thrown away by Bill Clinton. But, as always, one can grasp the internal logic of such a decision.