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In a new Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic primary voters, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami) has moved ahead of contender Jeff Greene in the highly-contested race for Florida’s Democratic nomination for Senate. With the Aug. 24 primary less than a week away, the poll puts Meek in the lead at 35 – 28 percent, with a large number of undecided voters still up for grabs.

Rep. Meek has made significant progress in getting his name and positions on key issues known in his statewide campaign, and has pointedly remarked that he must expand beyond his existing base in Miami.

After qualifying for candidacy through a much-publicized signature petition last year, he has received support from prominent Democrats, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former President Clinton, and President Obama, who will be speaking at a fundraiser tonight on behalf of Meek and other Florida Democratic candidates.

On his relationship with the Clintons and President Obama, Meek insists that his prior support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run has not affected his relationship with the Obama Administration. “There’s a working relationship with the White House to resolve the issues that are facing Floridians right now,” he says, dispelling rumors that he could lose party support to his opponent, billionaire businessman and self-styled outsider Jeff Greene.

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Greene’s late entry to the primary and earlier bid for Congress as a Republican puts his credentials in dispute. Rep. Meek contends, “I am the real Democrat in this race.”

Primary contention aside, the more difficult race looms further on the horizon. Whoever wins next Tuesday’s primary will face Florida Governor Charlie Crist, now running as an Independent, but very popular among the state’s voters from both parties. Rounding out the three-way race is Republican Mark Rubio, child of Cuban immigrants, and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Hoping to distinguish himself from the competition, Meek maintains, “I’ll be the only pro-choice candidate, the only candidate against off-shore oil drilling both before and after the spill, the only candidate against the privatization of Social Security.”

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