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Politics

Democratic Senate Primary Battle Starts Off With Attacks

May 3, 2010 - 6:00pm

While billionaire Jeff Greene has been in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate for less than a week, he has already shaped the race tremendously --forcing Congressman Kendrick Meek to focus on his new rival instead of on newly independent Gov. Charlie Crist or former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the likely Republican nominee.

Meek turned his attention to the new candidate shortly after real-estate mogul Greene announced his campaign Friday. Meek launched the first of what has become a series of attacks that have come from both camps, attacking Greenes business record. Meek took aim at Greene for making a fortune in the credit-swap industry while record numbers of Floridians, not able to keep up with their mortgages, were being foreclosed on.

"I'm running for the Senate to stop Wall Street from ever again wrecking the Florida economy, Meek said Friday. Jeff Greene profited from the misery of millions of Americans who lost their home equity, if not their homes. That's not the kind of candidate the Democratic party needs, and it's not the kind of senator Florida needs.

The Greene camp quickly responded, defending their candidates record in business. The Green campaign contrasted its candidate as an outsider opposed to a well-established politician like Meek.

"It's been four hours since Jeff Greene announced his campaign, and already it's politics as usual," said Paul Bright, a campaign consultant for Greene.

"After being in the swamp of Washington for the last eight years, taking the special-interest money while everything continued to get worse and Floridians lost their jobs, Meek, like the other career politicians in this race, wants a promotion, added Bright. Predictably, rather than running on his record, Meek has resorted to smears and lies."

The two campaigns continued to take shots at each other over the weekend.

Meeks team asserted that Greenes debut was a flop and again focused on Greenes career in finance, labeling the billionaire as the meltdown mogul.

Greenes team countered back with attacks of their own. While Kendrick Meek has been supping at the swamp of special-interest money in Washington for the last eight years, 700,000 more Floridians have lost their jobs, said Bright.

The two campaigns continued attacking each other this week, with Meeks campaign blasting Greenes record in business and Greenes team taking aim at Meek for being a career politician owned by special interests.

Instead of running on Kendrick Meeks record of not getting things done, theyre trying to lie and distort Jeff Greenes record, Bright said Tuesday. Were going to correct the record and make sure that people know the facts.

Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre and former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns are also running in the primary. While Ferre has taken some shots at him, Meek has ignored those two rivals. Until Greene emerged, Meek focused his fire on Rubio and Crist.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or (850) 727-0859.

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