In Florida's Senate race, Kendrick Meek (D) is trailing Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R) in general-election polls. And according to a new Quinnipiac survey, he's leading wealthy primary challenger Jeff Greene (who's friends with Mike Tyson and Heidi Fleiss, and who made his money off subprime mortgages) by just two points.
But in a roundtable discussion with reporters today, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said that his committee is fully behind Meek.
Asked if the DSCC would object to Democrats or Democratic groups backing Crist -- who's now leading in hypothetical three-way match-ups, Menendez replied, "We are committed to Kendrick Meek. We believe that he can win the general election… I'm focused on having Democrats support Kendrick Meek."
He attributed Meek's standing in the polls to his low name ID.
Menendez's main argument during the discussion was that when Democrats engage Republicans in one-on-one contests -- and when they make the race a clear contrast -- they win. He cited the special congressional elections in PA-12 and NY-23. When a reporter reminded Menendez that Democrats lost the special Massachusetts Senate race, Menendez replied that the Democratic candidate failed to make a clear contrast against his Republican opponent.
He also noted that Republicans have either ended up with fringe candidates (Rand Paul, Sharron Angle) or establishment candidates (Rob Portman, Roy Blunt, Dan Coats).
In addition, Menendez took a shot at California GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina. "I think she's more concerned about Barbara Boxer's hair than growing California's economy."
He didn't expect any tension with organized labor in the aftermath of the Lincoln-Halter race. "I fully expect them to be engaged with us."
And when asked if the DSCC would intervene in South Carolina -- given the person who won the Democratic Senate nomination, Alvin Greene, had been charged with a felony and didn't even seem to campaign in the primary -- Menendez said that his committee was only engaged in places where it makes sense to be engaged. South Carolina, he suggested, isn't one of those places.
When a reporter followed up about the possibility of dirty tricks in getting Greene on the ballot, Menendez replied, "I will allow the South Carolina Democratic Party to continue to pursue that."
*** UPDATE *** National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Marchand replies: “It’s no wonder the Democrats are trying to gloss over their own party’s contentious divisions and failed policies, but the facts speak for themselves. While the Democrats are still reeling from costly and divisive primaries in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky, Republicans are united behind our Senate nominees."