Today is primary day here in Florida. There are two races that are particularly interesting, at least from where I sit in Central Florida, and one that I simply can't wait to be over. The first is the Senate democrat primary pitting Rep. Kendrick Meek v. Jeff Greene. The second is to determine which republican will be running against Rep. Alan Grayson in CD 8. It's a pretty wide field (here's a rundown on where they stand on the issues), but the two front-runners seem to be Daniel Webster and Todd Long - at least, if the number of yard signs is any indicator.
As an unaffiliated voter, I am not eligible to vote in the primaries so I'm playing the waiting game, hoping the primary voters make good choices. The district 8 primary is more important to me than the senate primary right now, simply because we need someone strong to go against Grayson because Grayson most definitely must go. Of the seven challengers, two seem to be leading the pack. Todd Long came close to defeating Ric Keller in the '08 primary, so he has recent name recognition, and Daniel Webster has been in local and state politics for decades. Both seem pretty strong, Strong enough to beat Grayson? God, I hope so.
Which brings us to the Senate primary. The democrat primary outcome is of the utmost importance to both Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio. If Meek wins, Rubio will, at least accoording to polling so far, win the general election. Crist has been peeling off democrats from Meek in preliminary polling, making Meek a weak candidate, but he's not attracting enough democrats to put himself over the top, thus splitting the democrat vote and handing Rubio the win in the three-way race.
Jeff Greene seems to be damaged goods at this point, because of the stories that have been making the rounds about the wild parties on his yacht. While there are plenty of allegations but no proof of drug use or any other illegal activities, the stories are rather unsenatorial (as are the racy pictures), and the references to the 145ft yacht and the ultra-rich celebrity lifestyle of billionaire Greene strikes a discordant tone in these tough times. If Greene wins the primary, Crist will attract many democrats who are underwhelmed by Greene, which would push Crist over the finish line ahead of Rubio.
There is scuttlebutt that even if Meek wins, democrat groups, including the DSCC, will support Crist, as he seems to have a better shot of winning than Meek and has indicated that, as an independent, he would caucus with the democrats. Personally, I think it is highly unlikely that the DNC would back Crist over Meek (at least out in the open). First, Crist is unreliable, as his jump from republican to independent solely to save his political hide illustrates, and second (and more importantly), Meek is an african-american democrat congressman running for a seat in the Senate - a Senate that will be seeing it's only black member, Roland Burris, leaving office in January. If the DNC were to throw their support behind Crist instead of Meek, they run the risk of bad blood with the Congressional Black Caucus and potentially alienate the black community in the vital swing state that is Florida.
If, however, Jeff Greene should happen to win the primary (a slim chance, as he's down 10 points in the polls), definitely expect the DNC to back Crist. There has already been a national democrat-run fundraiser for him - perhaps a little bet-hedging? It will be interesting to see what happens if Meek wins. Dilemma, dilemma!
Finally, there is the McCollum/Scott faceoff. This has been a hotly contested primary, with attack ads airing ad nauseum. The winner will face democrat Alex Sink for the governor's mansion. This race in particular has been attack-oriented and there has been so much mud slung that many Floridians are feeling a little dirty from it all. McCollum is the front-runner, but Scott is fighting to the finish. With a little luck, the general election will be more civil. There has been so much finger-pointing and lesser-of-two-evils style campaigning that it would be nice to actually hear what the various candidates would like to accomplish if they win, instead of merely demonizing their opponents. The McCollum/Scott matchup was particularly virulent. Frankly, with all of the attacks, neither one of them are very appealing right now. Hopefully, once the winner is announced, we will learn what he stands for - that would be a refreshing change.
Remember the days when attack ads were the last ditch effort at the end of the campaign? Ah, the good old days. Where once that tactic was called "going negative" it is now simply called "campaigning". Instead of lists of pros and cons for each candidate, we are inundated with lists of cons only. Which is actually rather fitting, considering how ethically challenged recent politicians have been. A list of "cons" indeed - it's known as a ballot.
UPDATE: The results are in - Kendrick Meek and Daniel Webster are moving on to the next round. As of this writing, Rick Scott is ahead with 47% of the vote, with 54% of precincts reporting. The race should be called in his favor soon. The players are now set, so let the games begin!