U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek had a lot of reasons to feel good about his primary win last week over Jeff Greene. Despite recent polls that showed Greene doing well, Meek trounced him with 57 percent of the vote.
But there's also something that should worry Meek: Greene took 32 of the state's 67 counties, nearly sweeping all rural areas.
The reason appears to be simple racism. Meek lost in rural counties that are predominantly white, where the Democratic Party is made up of
Southerners who have rejected the GOP.
Take Holmes County, a tiny sliver of land in the Panhandle with just under 20,000 people. Nine out of ten residents there are white, and most of them who voted in the Democratic primary picked
Greene. He won with 63 percent of the
vote. Meek managed just 14 percent, finishing third behind relative
unknown Glenn A. Burkett.
That was the case across the center and northern parts of the state, from Highlands and Okeechobee counties here in southern Florida up to places like Union and Lafayette counties, where Greene got 64 percent of the vote.
In more urban and ethnically diverse areas, Greene did poorly. He managed just 22 percent of the vote in Broward, 12 percent in Miami-Dade, and 28 percent in Palm Beach, his home county.
Charles Smith, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee in Holmes County, isn't surprised by those numbers. He blames the conservatives registered as Democrats.
"Conservatives are the dregs of the old racists," he said. "They're Dixiecrats who won't join the Republicans because of Abraham Lincoln. Everything here is upside down."
What does this all mean for Meek? If he hopes to beat Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio in November's general election, he'll need the support of Democrats, white and black.
Meek's campaign press office didn't return a phone call this morning asking for a response to these numbers.
UPDATED: Meek's press office assistant, Marc, who declined to give his last name, said the campaign wouldn't comment. "No one wants to give one," Marc said, when asked why. "There isn't a comment." He declined to elaborate on why.