kendrick-meek_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

As the Democratic Senate race winds down, candidates Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene continue pulling out all the stops in their bid for a win in the Aug. 24 primary.  The names of big Democrats are being tossed about and ethics questions and negative campaign ads have become hallmarks of this hotly contested race.

President Barack Obama has endorsed Meek but Congressman Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, has voiced displeasure with the level of support from the White House.  Hastings has called on the President to boost his show of public support.

But Meek also has more presidential star power lined up. Next week, former President Bill Clinton will come to South Florida to campaign with Meek in hopes of turning out Democratic voters. 

Clinton and Meek will make three appearances on Aug. 16, one each in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. All three rallies are open to the public. 

Meek sought to make his case in an interview with South Florida Times in the midst of a 10-day bus tour that he calls the “Real Dem Express.” He steered clear of bashing Greene, saying, “There are a lot of negative ads out there but we’re about the issues. And we have a lot of momentum.”

A Mason-Dixon poll out the first week of August showed Meek ahead of Greene by 4 points. As recently as the end of July, a Quinnipiac University poll put Greene ahead of Meek by 10 points.  Meek dismissed those poll numbers, citing his current slight lead. “We’re ahead of Jeff Greene,” he said.

Meek was dismissive of Greene’s campaigning in Liberty City, Meek’s “backyard.”

“We’re going to turn out all communities in Miami,” he said, “because I’m the best person for the job.” 

But Meek has found himself fending off Greene’s most serious, and persistent, attack: his ties to developer Dennis Stackhouse.

Stackhouse hired Meek’s mother, the stalwart retired Congresswoman Carrie Meek, as a consultant, paying her $90,000 and giving her a Cadillac Escalade.  Stackhouse was later charged with fraud and theft.

Meek once sought federal dollars for a Miami project for Stackhouse.  Neither Meek nor his mother has been charged with any wrongdoing and Meek has said he supported the arrest of Stackhouse.

Greene, however, is pressing his claim that the Stackhouse affair showed Meek was a “corrupt” career politician.

The attack has drawn Meek’s wrath.  In a Palm Beach Post/ WPBT-2 debate in June, when Greene pressed the issue, Meek struck back, declaring, “How dare you attack the character of my mother?” And in a debate in Orlando that aired on statewide television on Aug. 10, Greene again taunted Meek with the Stackhouse issue, asking Meek if he’s going to “get cars, money and other kinds of benefits” for family members, should he win election to the U.S. Senate.

Meek again defended himself but appeared exasperated. Asked by South Florida Times why the issue touched a nerve with him, he said it did not.

“It hasn’t touched a nerve with me,” he said. “It’s touched a nerve with the voters.”

He also refuted Greene’s allegation that his ties to Stackhouse were “questionable.”

“I don’t think it’s questionable, because I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.

He said he preferred to stick to the issues.

“I’m a strong leader for the middle class,” he said. “I’m dedicated to getting Florida back to work.  And I’m continuing the fight on health care and education. I’m also the only candidate with a strong, pro-choice record.”

Meek said another issue close to his heart is the nation’s veterans.

“I’m working for better opportunities for veterans. They have not received the level of care they deserve,” he said. “I’m looking forward to bringing their battle to Washington.”

Meek’s bus tour will end with a rally at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave., Miami.

The Kendrick Meek/Bill Clinton rallies will take place at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, at Pompey Park in Delray Beach; at 5:45 p.m. at the Signature Grand in Davie; and at 8:30 p.m. at the Gusman Theatre in Miami.

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Daphne Taylor may be reached at

Kendrick Meek