Meek's "Real Dem Express" passes through Tampa Bay area
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08/11/10 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Kendrick Meek steps off the Real Dem Express in West Tampa today.


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

The day after another testy debate with primary opponent Jeff Greene, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek was back on the campaign trail. Today’s leg of the ten-day trip took U.S. Rep. Meek through Tampa Bay. Much of the contest between Meek and billionaire newcomer Greene has consisted of character attacks. But today Meek took the spotlight off his main opponent and spoke with WMNF about what he’s seen in the first seven days of the tour.

Meek spoke to reporters aboard his tour bus as he traveled across the Howard Frankland Bridge. He dubs the bus the Real Dem Express. During the day, the bus houses Meek, his wife, their teen-aged children, and several campaign staffers. They stay in hotels overnight. Meek said he’s met a lot of people along the way.

He said his opposition to offshore drilling may not be something on which he disagrees with Greene, but that it would help him come the general election.

The tour began in Northeast Florida on August 4. Meek and crew launched from the West Tampa Library this morning. The second stop was the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, to field questions from local politicos. From there, the bus was scheduled to hit Sarasota and Bradenton. One Suncoast Tiger Bay Club member gave him the chance to defend himself against Greene’s claims that Meek is a criminal because of past dealings with a shady developer.

While Meek did spend a lot of time on his main primary opponent, he also spoke plainly about where he stands on various issues – something Tiger Bay audience members afterward said they had never seen. Audience member Ann Donnelly said she was probably going to vote for him anyway, but today’s event reaffirmed it.

While Donnelly said she would definitely opt for Meek over non-party-affiliate candidate Charlie Crist if Meek clears the primary, not everyone agrees. Aila Erman of St, Petersburg said she likes Meek after hearing him say he wants to elevate debate in Washington, but another Senate hopeful, Crist, has her heart.

St. Pete resident Art O’Hara, a Democrat, said he’ll seriously consider Meek, especially after Greene’s self-funded political ad campaign.

The latest Rasmussen poll gives Meek 21 percent of the vote, compared with conservative stalwart Marco Rubio’s 38 percent and Governor Charlie Crist’s 33 percent if all three were in the general election now. The Real Dem Express’s tour ends Saturday in South Florida. On Monday President Bill Clinton will join Meek in Miami for a fundraiser.

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