Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Steinberg: Senate race likely to be Meek vs. Crist

At the Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, State Rep. Richard Steinberg was asked about the race for governor now erupting in Florida, and he gave a strong endorsement of Alex Sink, currently the chief financial officer of the state. Sink is a “brilliant woman,” he said, while the leading Republican, Attorney General Bill McCollum, is just a career politician.

Without being asked, Steinberg went on to volunteer that he thought the US Senate race would be between US Rep. Kendrick Meek (FL-17) and Gov. Charlie Crist. Hmm, methinks, what about Dan Gelber, Steinberg’s precedessor in State House District 106 and now State Senator for District 35? Gelber, Steinberg said, maybe would run for some other office.

This analysis jibes nicely with what’s on the front page of Tuesday’s Miami Herald, a story that says both parties are rallying behind supposed front-runners to avoid nasty primary fights. The Herald story is mostly about the Republican leadership all standing behind Bill McCollum but the Democrats do make some appearances, notably, regarding Gelber, as saying he might switch and run for attorney general.

My feeling is: what’s the rush? The primary and election are not this year – they’re way off in 2010, next year, a year and a half away for the general election. There’s certainly nothing wrong with politicians adjusting their sights as the targets on the firing range move and shake, but having the party load all its support onto one candidate at this early stage ignores the safety of waiting a while to see what develops.

Maybe someone’s slogan will really catch on and the race will look different in a year. What if this recession is really a depression and Charlie Crist takes a well-justified beating as Florida develops a 20-percent unemployment rate while he ignores his gubernatorial duties to campaign for US Senate? I’m fine with letting the Republicans make a strategic error by jumping early, but I’d prefer that the Democratic Party looks wise and patient.

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