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Count State Senator Dan Gelber In FL U.S. Senate Race

Dan_Gelber Florida State Senator Dan Gelber has officially thrown his hat in the ring for the Florida U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Mel Martinez in 2010. Two weeks earlier, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek officially announced he would seek the seat. A Meek win would be historic, as a victory would make him the first black elected statewide in Florida.

Gelber, a South Floridian like Meek, was widely known to base his decision to run on whether Florida CFO Alex Sink would also seek the seat. Since she decided not to run, the race is really wide open.

Meek and Gelber are both Dems. One is black and the other Jewish in a state that hasn’t been known for selecting ethnically diverse candidates in elected state leadership positions. Martinez, a well-connected Cuban-American, won his seat by a narrow margin in 2004. President Obama won Florida in the 2008 General Election but that was the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of money.  Will the Obama effect last until 2010?

Like Obama, the victor will likely be the one that can raise the most money to get his message across to voters. Meek has started strong with a presence on the internet and campaign materials prominently displayed in Miami-Dade County and likely throughout Florida. Momentum for the Democratic ticket for this senate seat is swinging toward Meek based on some high profile folks who’ve lined up behind him but don’t count Gelber out of this one just yet.Kendrick_meek

Another important factor is the 2008 presidential primary. Meek was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton while Gelber was an early and strong supporter of Barack Obama. How those decisions influence voters in this race still remains to be seen. Some folks still haven’t gotten past that in spite of the public Kumbaya moments between the Clintons and Obama during the general election.

As the Dems campaign, let’s see who lines up on the Republican side. FL Attorney General Bill McCollum? Former Speaker of the House Marco Rubio? The race for this seat will be hot so stay tuned.

Do you think Florida voters are ready to elect either of these gentlemen or will the seat remain in the Republican column in 2010?



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