Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crist should consider Lawson, Meek as potential running mates

Ever since 2011, many Florida Democrats have worked to recruit Charlie Crist to join the party and challenge Rick Scott for the governorship in 2014.

Crist took another step toward the upcoming gubernatorial race on Dec. 13 by officially registering as a Democrat.

Now that it seems likely Crist will seek the Democratic nomination for his former job, he has a big decision to make. He’ll need to select a running mate who will excite Florida Democrats, appeal to swing voters, and help him govern.

Alfred “Al” Lawson and Kendrick Meek, two FAMU alumni, could easily fit that bill.

Election Appeal

Crist won 20 percent of black votes when he ran for the governorship in 2006. If Crist places Lawson or Meek on the ticket, either man could help him rally African Americans to turn out in the types of large numbers that they did during the 2008 and 2012 presidential election.

Lawson and Meek would also be attractive to swing voters.

Lawson represented a majority white district in the Florida Senate and developed a reputation for striking bipartisan deals.

Meek has spent much of his political career courting working and middle class voters who feel that the GOP-led legislature is starving public education. During the year 2002, 2.5 million citizens supported his proposed class size amendment to the Florida Constitution despite vigorous opposition from then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Back when Crist and Meek sought Florida’s junior U.S. Senate seat in the 2010 general election, the combined 2,700,485 votes that they both received topped the 2,645,743 that went winner Marco Rubio. It was also more than the 2,619,335 that Scott won in the gubernatorial race. That speaks well for the prospect of Crist and Meek picking up a victory as a ticket in 2014.

Effective Governing

As governor, Crist will additionally need a second-in-command who can serve as an effective liaison between the governor’s office and major legislative bodies. Both Lawson and Meek have the connections to get results in this important area.

Lawson formerly served as the Minority Leader of the Florida Senate. He could guide the process helping Crist’s appointees to the executive agencies and the Florida Supreme Court secure confirmation. He could also find sponsors for bills that represent the priorities of the governor’s office.

Meek won the admiration of colleagues on both sides of the political aisle as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He ended his career as a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Meek could head the governor’s efforts to lobby for a greater Congressional investment in Florida’s future.

The Florida Democratic Party has no shortage of strong potential picks for the lieutenant governorship. But few can boast the quality of Al Lawson or Kendrick Meek’s political experience.

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