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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What's Kendrick Meek done in Congress?



Meeeek Alex Leary looks at Kendrick Meek's Congressional career: ...Nancy Pelosi, who became House speaker in the Democratic takeover, heralded Meek as emblematic of a wave of young leaders, and he quickly ascended the ranks, gaining a prestigious seat on the Ways and Means Committee.

But Meek, 43, has never fully assumed the starring role some thought was his destiny. After four terms, his legislative record tilts more toward rank-and-file than standout.

That reality confronts Meek as he strains for attention in a race dominated by better known and more well-financed opponents who question his effectiveness....

...He is not a back-bencher by any means, but in a group of 435 members, it is hard to be distinguished. That accounts for the difficulty Meek faces now and the soft embrace he has received from the Democratic machine.

"It's tough for any junior member to get traction unless you decide to throw rocks or set off cherry bombs," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. "What Meek did was build a strong reputation as a diligent, attractive, articulate, nose-to-the-grindstone team player. That's a great route to build a career in the body. But it doesn't make it the best way to break out if you're going to run in a big state like Florida."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:15am]


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