Rep. Meek says a Crist Indie bid would help him (updated)

Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek (D) said if Gov. Charlie Crist (R) runs as an Independent the three-way race will be favorable to his chances.

"The governor makes a decision that he's going to run as an Independent, automatically, I become a factor in this race," the four-term congressman told CNN's John King in an interview. "There will no longer be debates with just the two of them. I would be invited as another major candidate in the race."

Meek wouldn't say if he knew definitively that Crist was going to drop his campaign for the Republican Senate nomination wherein he faces former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

"Charlie Crist is going to do what's in the best interests of Charlie Crist. And if that's running as an Independent and staying alive until November, then that's what he'll do," Meek said, according to a transcript of the show that will air Thursday night.

Crist has until the April 30 filing deadline to decide whether to drop out of the race for the GOP nod and run as Independent.

King asked Meek how he feels about running as a Democrat in the current national environment.

"First of all, I'm running as Kendrick Meek for the United States Senate," he replied. "And that's the reason why, over 13 months, I went throughout Florida, history making, qualifying by petition. Floridians appreciate that hard work. I've always been the guy that -- that kind of went out and stood out on behalf of the people."

With immigration reform again being talked about as a legislative priority by some Democrats in Congress, King asked Meek whether he preferred it was addressed before the election.

"I prefer they do it," he said. "I believe Floridians understand the importance of having people come forth and pay taxes and knowing who's in the state of Florida.  Diversity is not a new word to Florida. And I believe that dealing with the right immigration reform is going to be important, requiring people to come forth and pay taxes, requiring people to step forward.  So that number of undocumented individuals can get smaller so that law enforcement can eject those individuals from the country."

(This post was updated at 10:05 p.m. An earlier version incorrectly attributed a quote by CNN's King to Rep. Meek.)