Election 2010 – Florida Senate Race – Republican Incumbent
The election may be 9 months away, but this race has already garnered a ton of attention. At first, it seemed that current Republican Governor Charlie Crist would easily end up Florida’s newest senator. Popular with voters from both parties and seen as a steady leader in a highly diverse state, Crist built up a huge lead in polls and in fund-raising.
However, his conservative credentials started being questioned after supporting President Obama’s stimulus plan and President Bush’s bank bailout, and now he is facing a very serious challenge from the right-wing of his party in the form of the candidacy of Marco Rubio. The day before Thanksgiving, highly influential conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh expressed his dislike of Crist and many right-wing activists are looking to ensure a Rubio victory.
This primary battle will all occur before the final election pitting the Republican winner against a Democrat in this purple swing state.
Governor Charlie Crist won a fierce battle to become governor in 2006 so he is no stranger to hard fought elections. Raised in the St. Petersburg area, Crist was a State Senator and Florida’s Attorney General before he was elected Governor. He is credited with both being a stalwart conservative on social issues and working hard to protect the Floridian environment. To learn more, click here.
Marco Rubio is also a well-known politician in the state. Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2008, Rubio is the son of Cuban parents and grew up in Miami. Now having returned to his private law practice, he has also been a visiting professor at Florida International University. He is running a campaign based in strict right-wing ideology. To learn more, click here.
Also joining him in the second tier of Republicans running are Bob Coggins, a Marine veteran and engineer, Linda Vasquez Littlefield, a Kissimmee attorney, Gwyn McClellan, an evangelist, Belinda Noah, formerly a law professor at Stetson University, Shawn Teeters, a Naples businessman, and Dr. Marion Thorpe.
Although the battle has not heated up as much in the Democratic party, a similar dynamic is also occurring here. One candidate, Kendrick Meek, was largely seen as the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination until, in this case, two strong candidates emerged to take him on. Meek, still favored by most pundits, is currently a US Representative, serving a Miami area district that is one of the most Democratic in the country. He started his career as a police officer and later served 7 years in the Florida legislature. To learn more, click here.
Another name specifically familiar to Miami residents is Maurice Ferré. Mayor of Florida’s largest city from 1973 to 1985, the septuagenarian Ferré, born in Puerto Rico, is attempting to return to Florida politics after a long career in consulting following his 6 terms as mayor. To learn more, click here.
Signifying just how important the Miami area is to the Democratic Party in Florida, the third major candidate also comes from this section of the state. Kevin Burns is Mayor of North Miami, a distinct city from its southern neighbor, and he is looking to make the move to Washington. Originally a small business owner and a real estate broker, he is currently in his second term as mayor. To read more, click here.
There are more candidates with much less name recognition, yet are hoping for a chance at the nomination. They include Tyrone Brown, a pastor in Daytona Beach, Chuck Lynch, and Lawrence Penpek, an Army veteran.