Meek petitions student votes

Tallahassee was stop number four on U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek statewide petition campaign to get on next year’s U.S. Senate ballot on Wednesday in Downtown MarketPlace.

“I am counting on the Big Bend to play a vital role in the success of this campaign,” Meek said. “We’re going to have an army of volunteers thoroughly immersed in this campaign.” 

Meek began his tour in Orlando on April 3. With about $1.8 million in campaign funds, he said it would be easy to pay the filing fee of $10,000 by next spring. But instead he plans to travel from Pensacola to Key West in search of 120,000 voter signatures in his quest to become the first Florida Senate candidate to make the ballot by petition. 

“It’s going to take a lot of work and it’s not going to be easy…and it won’t stop after I get 120,000 signatures,” Meek said. “This is only the beginning.” 

Meek is modeling a successful grassroots effort led by President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. Meek said people have already begun sending in donations along with petition forms. 

“I am bringing democracy back to the campaign,” Meek said. “I am going to make contact and hear issues… this exercise will make me a better senator.” 

Meek, a graduate of Florida A&M University also said he is counting on “Rattlers to be Rattlers.”

“FAMU is known for their advocacy on issues…Famuans nationwide have been very supportive,” Meek said. “They have gathered checks, volunteered their time and made a commitment to support one of their own.”

Mayor John Marks, a long time friend and supporter of Meek, said it was time to move the nation forward. 

“I said no one could beat his mom when she ran for Congress…and I’m saying now no one can beat the son,” Marks said. 

Meek is the son of the state legislator and Congresswoman Carrie Meek who was born in Tallahassee. 

One of Meek’s FAMU professors, Sharon Wooten, was there to sign the first petition.

“I told Kendrick back in school that it was not about democrats or republicans it was about people,” Wooten said.

So far, Florida Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, is the only other major candidate in the race to replace retiring Republican Mel Martinez. Former Republican House Speaker

Marco Rubio of Miami has started an exploratory committee and Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce his decision about seeking the GOP nomination after the legislative session.

“If [the Governor] runs, he’ll just be another candidate,” Meek said. “I’ll put my credentials up against anybody’s.”

In a press release Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer responded to Meek’ campaign stop.

“The fact that Congressman Meek would come to Tallahassee to tout his Senate Campaign, after voting for higher taxes and more spending, while Florida lawmakers are pinching pennies shows just how out of touch he is with the values and priorities of Floridians,” Greer said. “Congressman Meek certainly didn’t fight to include President Obama’s long-promised middle class tax cuts when he voted in lock step with Nancy Pelosi on increased taxes and spending.”

Meek has challenged Florida Republicans in the past. As a state legislature, he staged a sit-in protest in then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s office complex over a proposal to strip affirmative action protections from state contracting and university admissions. And in 2002 Meek ran a successful drive to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot mandating reduction in classroom sizes for Florida schools.