In a conference call with statewide and national press, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek’s campaign reported that he has raised $1,491,000 for the first quarter of 2009. The final tally won’t be posted until mid-month, and that total is expected to increase when contributions made by the deadline are included.
Meek is seeking to replace U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, who is not seeking re-election after only one term. Also seeking the seat are State Senator Dan Gelber and a few lesser known candidates from other parts of the state.
According to Steve Hildebrand, Meek’s general campaign consultant and senior strategist, the figure exceeds the campaign’s goal of raising $1.2 million for the quarter, and is larger than first quarter figures for at least two congressional members that Meek hopes will become his colleagues.
“That’s not a number that I don’t want to say is unprecedented by any stretch of the imagination,” Hildebrand said, but the campaign is clearly pleased.
“We feel very good about the numbers. We’ve got a lot to prove and have a lot more money to raise,” he added.
By comparison, Democratic Senators and first cousins, Mark Udall of Colorado ($1.1 million) and Tom Udall of New Mexico ($1.2 million), did very well in their first quarter of fundraising during their respective races for Congress last year. But not as well as Meek.
“This is substantially higher than what they did,” Hildebrand said.
“Two thirds of the contributions…came from Floridians, which I know is a percentage that Kendrick is very proud of,” Hildebrand said.
Hoping to replicate at least some of President Obama’s Internet success, the Meek campaign reported that 1000 Floridians made donations via the congressman’s web site, which was launched at the end of February, according to Hildebrand
Meek, a former Florida Highway Patrol trooper, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, serving from 1995 to 1998. He served in the Florida Senate from 1999 to 2002. In 2002, Meek was elected to represent the 17th Congressional District of Florida, which includes parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He was elected to his fourth term in the U.S. House in 2008.
“This is the beginning of the game, not the end. We know that this is going to be a very expensive race,” he said.
Photo: U.S. State Rep. Kendrick Meek