Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek (D) and his allies are moving aggressively to beat back rival Jeff Greene (D) ahead of the Aug. 24 primary. On Thursday, he announced the endorsement of the National Organization of Women and released a TV ad targeting Greene. Meek's also getting some help from a new Democratic independent expenditure (IE) group.
Terry O'Neill, NOW's president, called Meek "a real friend to women's rights."
"He's been an ally for us on extremely important issues," she said, citing his support for women's access to abortion and support for gay and lesbian rights. "He's been a real advocate for measures to end violence against women," she added.
O'Neil wouldn't say that Greene, by associating with former madam Heidi Fleiss or boxer Mike Tyson, was out-of-step with NOW's interests. "I don't think that anybody should be guilty by association,” she said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
"We really need to get away from the good ol' boy mentality," she said. "Kendrick Meek is not of the good ol' boy mentality."
Meek, meanwhile, brushed aside suggestions that Democratic pollster Mark Penn hosting a fundraiser for his would-be general-election opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist, was a sign the party was hedging its bets.
"It seems to make the news when the governor can get the wife of a Democratic pollster to do an event in D.C.," he said. "My relationships with Democrats — especially high-profile Democrats — far supercede dirt-grabbing efforts the governor is trying to put out to the public. … It's not even comparable."
The Miami-area congressman has the support of the White House and former President Clinton, who travels to Florida next week for three campaign events with Meek.
"For [Crist] to have a fundraiser or two, or a supporter or two, is not something that keeps me up at night. I have Republicans who have written checks to my campaign," Meek said.
He's also getting help from another Clinton Democrat, Ben Pollara, who was the Florida finance director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid. He recently filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish a group called Florida Is Not for Sale. It intends to run an IE supporting Meek, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The TV ad Meek released Thursday hits Greene on his real estate investment strategy and uses a damning quote from a recent St. Petersburg Times story. "All I care about is that I get my money," Greene told the paper for a story it did about his property holdings in California.
The Greene camp was quick to respond.
"Kendrick Meek continues to launch false and vicious attacks against Jeff Greene because he doesn't have a record to run on — he's a failure," a Greene spokesman said in a statement.