Kendrick Meek submits signatures to get on ballot
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03/29/10 Seán Kinane
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While Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio bask in the national spotlight, whichever one survives the Republican primary will still face opponents in November’s general election. The leading Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, appears to have submitted enough petitions to get on the ballot.

I'm very, very excited, and thankful to the people of the state of Florida for helping me to place my name on the ballot by signature versus paying 10,000 dollars in Tallahassee. To surpass the 112,476 that are needed, turning in over 145,000, it's just something that's really unbelievable. But it goes to show you the kind of reach this campaign has, within the county, throughout the state of Florida, and connecting with the people.

This morning, several members of Meek’s staff and three elected officials dropped dozens of signed petition forms off at the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office in downtown Tampa. Similar drop-offs occurred throughout the state. Tampa City Council member Thomas Scott feels that qualifying for the ballot by signatures helps Meek gain exposure.

This method helps you, one, to make contact with the people, and hear some of their concerns and issues. So you have personal contact with the candidate and with people, to hear what the issues are and their concerns are. It puts you directly in front of the voters, those who are concerned about who they vote for, concerned about the issues. And so that makes him kind of out front, in my opinion, in terms of touching the individual. I mean, that's a great way to really hear people, and to get your own message out as well, a way to touch people.

County supervisors of elections have until April 19 to notify the state of the number of valid signatures. But Meek submitted tens of thousands more signature petitions than needed to qualify. That leads Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena to be confident Meek will make it.

*Every petition represents an individual who literally signed his name for Meek to be our U.S. Senator. And that kind of grass-roots engagement and connection is critical. Meek cares about the individual citizens of Florida. He's using a very high-touch, personal way of hearing what their concerns are, and saying, “I will represent your concerns in the U.S. Congress.”*

Candidates can qualify for the ballot either by paying a filing fee of about $10,000, or by collecting more than 112,000 signatures.

If Meek does win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, one challenger is former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre. He will almost certainly face either Marco Rubio or Charlie Crist. Recently-elected state House member Janet Cruz thinks the fireworks between Crist and Rubio will help Meek’s campaign.

I think that those two guys are just tearing each other to shreds. I think people shouldn't underestimate what I call Kendrick Meek, which is “the gentle giant.” I mean, while others are fighting, he's gone out and collected 112,000 petitions, the first statewide candidate to accomplish such a task.

Saul-Sena and Scott agree.

Rubio and Crist are tearing each other to shreds. Meek is being a professional public servant. I think the contrast is clear.

There's already a bloodbath. As they continue that style of campaigning, they're going to make it easier for him to win. I think people in today's time want a candidate who's positive, who's going to solve issues, and not go back and dig up dirt, sling mud. I think in today's time, people want positive campaigning, and want to hear what you're going to do as a candidate, and not think about the past and all the things that went wrong.

In a conference call with reporters this morning, Meek said the I-4 corridor, including the Tampa Bay area, is a key to who will become Florida’s next U.S. senator.

We have worked very hard in Hillsborough and in St. Petersburg, and there in Polk County, very important to us. We feel that we are going to do well there; we have a lot of support from local electeds, and also community leaders. And they were the reason why we were very successful in the Bay area, and we look forward to continuing to campaign hard there.

Kendrick Meek

Maurice Ferre

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