The level of political discourse in the Democratic Senate primary boils down to: Your celebrity friends are low lifes. Response: So’s your mom.
Four-term Rep. Kendrick Meek and real estate billionaire Jeff Greene have been relentless in criticizing each other, and the vitriol is unlikely to end with Tuesday’s primary.
Meek has called Greene a “bad man” who earned his wealth on the backs of the working class; Greene made his money forecasting that the mortgage market would collapse. Greene called the congressman corrupt and criticized his mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, saying she got money and a Cadillac Escalade from a developer seeking a tax break.
“People in Florida need that money for important projects here in Florida, not to pay back some guy who’s employing your mother,” Greene said at one debate.
Even in Florida — home to hanging chads, a presidential deadlock, protests and a recount — the negative tone has hit a new low for some voters.
“All the things he’s saying about Meek’s mother? There’s no facts to that. If there were, there’d be an investigation,” said Brian Zarett, 44, of Delray Beach, who is turned off by “all the mudslinging.”
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The nomination was supposed to be a lock for Meek, a one-time Florida Highway Patrol trooper and son of the former congresswoman in the north Miami congressional district. But on the last day possible, Greene entered the race and immediately began spending millions on television ads.
Greene’s entry cast a spotlight on his celebrity friends and high-flying lifestyle. The race quickly got ugly.
“I’m the outsider job creator, he’s the failed career politician,” said Greene, who moved to Florida two years ago from California.
Meek has the Democratic establishment behind him; former President Bill Clinton campaigned with the congressman Monday and President Barack Obama told a Democratic Party rally in Miami on Wednesday that Meek “has been a champion of middle-class families and somebody who has not been afraid to stand up to the status quo and special interests.”
Recent polls show Meek in the lead.
“I can’t tell you how many people walk up to me and say, ‘I don’t know much about Jeff Greene, but any man that attacks another man’s mother for political gain, I have a problem with him,’” Meek said.
With the candidates remarkably similar on the issues such as the economy and health care, Greene’s personal life has made more news. He dismisses the tales as sideshows.
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