Rep. Kendrick Meek cinched Florida's Senate Democratic nomination by defeating political upstart Jeff Greene on Tuesday, and veteran politician Bill McCollum battled novice Rick Scott in the state's GOP gubernatorial contest as voters weighed the merits of establishment candidates vs. wealthy outsiders.
As the first polls of the night closed, Meek toppled Greene, a big-spending real estate tycoon whose links to boxer Mike Tyson and former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss drew headlines, in the Democratic Senate nomination fight. The four-term congressman will compete against Republican Marco Rubio, who easily secured the GOP nod, and Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is running as an independent, in November.
"Floridians sent a clear message - they want a real Democrat representing them in the U.S. Senate," Meek said. "The naysayers said we couldn't beat a billionaire, and tonight with your help, we proved them wrong." Poking at both Crist and Rubio without naming them, he added: "Floridians want leaders who will fight for them all the time, not just when it helps their own political career or advances an extreme philosophy."