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Sink’s withdrawal opens up Florida's Senate field

The line for the Democratic race for the Senate can form now that Alex Sink in out of the running.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times (2006)

The line for the Democratic race for the Senate can form now that Alex Sink in out of the running.

With Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink out of the running for the U.S. Senate, the Democratic primary could hardly be more unpredictable, with no one widely known. Let's take a quick glance at the plusses and minuses of the prospective field.

U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, Monticello. Pro: Strong fundraising potential, and in a crowded primary with several South Florida candidates, his moderate North Florida roots could help him stand out. Con: Weak geographic base. A stump speech style that, in comparison, makes Jim Davis sound like Barack Obama.

• State Sen. Dan Gelber, Miami Beach. Pro: A policy maven and a strong speaker, whose federal prosecutor background could soften the liberal image. Con: Questionable fundraising ability, unknown outside Miami and Tallahassee.

• U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, Boca Raton. Pro: A tireless, disciplined campaigner and champion money raiser who already has $1.7-million to transfer to a Senate race. Con: Snooze factor. Often viewed as a predictable and cautious partisan.

• U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Miami. Pro: Excites a lot of grass roots activists, especially labor and African-American leaders. In a crowded primary, black voters could be key. Con: How well he plays with moderate, white swing voters is uncertain.

Crist still says 'no'

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the new head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been pressing Gov. Charlie Crist to get in the race, but Crist has steadfastly insisted he prefers sticking around Florida.

Keep in mind, though, that other than Jeb Bush, Crist is probably the only candidate who could wait months and months and still be the immediate front-runner.

Just look at the Democrats talking about challenging Crist for re-election as governor: not a soul so far.

First class or coach

Crist took some criticism when his office said he'd likely attend Obama's inauguration traveling on the taxpayers' dime. Now his office says Crist and his new wife will fly commercial at their own expense.

Rubio high on GOP list?

All-but announced Senate candidate Marco Rubio, the former GOP House speaker from Miami, was also working Washington last week. None other than outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez was seen escorting him into Cornyn's office for a meeting.

Hasner in … or not

Here's a sentence we're getting tired of hearing: "I'm flattered by all the encouragement I'm getting."

Ask almost any Florida politician — okay, maybe not House Speaker Ray Sansom — about his interest in running for the Senate in 2010, and you hear some variation of that.

The latest? State House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach.

"I've met or had conversations with a lot of people in Florida and Washington who want me to run. I've demonstrated an ability to lead in a legislative environment. I bring youthful ideas and energy to the party. I have an energy and passion for serving the people of Florida that is unrivaled. My work ethic speaks for itself."

Look at special session

Check out Political Connections on Bay News 9 for an extensive look at the Legislature's special session and the state's dire budget picture. Guests are state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel; state Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg; state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; and Manatee County school superintendent Tim McGonegal. The show airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Kendrick Meek: The Miami representative showed his confident tenacity, jumping into the U.S. Senate race as other Democrats waited to see what Alex Sink did. A pal of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Meek has some heavy-hitter Clinton fundraisers in his corner, including Chris Korge and Ira Leesfield of Miami, and has Barack Obama's deputy national campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, leading his Senate campaign.

Loser of

the week

State Rep. Bill Galvano: The well respected Bradenton Republican is in a no-win situation as House rules chairman when it comes to an ethics complaint filed against Speaker Ray Sansom. If he dismisses it, the investigation will be viewed as a whitewash; if he finds probable cause, critics will say Galvano, who lost a bid for Speaker to Sansom, is positioning himself.

Sink’s withdrawal opens up Florida's Senate field 01/17/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 8:05pm]

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