Kendrick Meek repeatedly derides his U.S. Senate rival as a carpetbagging billionaire trying to buy the election. Jeff Greene counters that Meek is a do-nothing career politician.
The accusations will fly face to face today when the two Democrats meet in a formal debate for the first time. The 90-minute forum in West Palm Beach is sponsored by the Palm Beach Post and WPBT-Channel 2, and will be live-streamed on palmbeachpost.com.
The absence of live television coverage takes the stakes down a notch, but the candidates are likely to seize on any gaffes by their opponent and circulate them on the Internet and in future campaign commercials.
Meek, a Miami representative and former state legislator, is the more experienced public speaker. Greene's only other campaign for public office was a 1982 congressional bid as a Republican in Southern California. He lost in the primary. But after less than two months in this race, Greene, a real estate tycoon, has raised his profile by spending more than $4 million on television ads. That's more money than Meek had in the bank at the end of March.
A June 10 Quinnipiac University poll found Meek receiving 29 percent of the vote, compared to Greene with 27 percent. Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre was not invited to the debate because he received only 3 percent of the vote in the survey. The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to face Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist.