Politics & Government

Meek vows to keep fighting for U.S. Senate seat

At Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in downtrodden Liberty City, where he was baptized, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was summoned to the altar.

Kendrick Meek and his 84-year-old mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, stepped out of the second pew and sat down in two chairs placed in the center aisle, just below the pulpit. Nearly 200 congregants clustered around, holding hands and singing ``We've Come This Far By Faith.''

It was an emotional homecoming for Meek, who, according to every single poll, is expected to come in third in Tuesday's election.

``Many times we live in the moment, but I don't want to miss the significance of this, the first time in the state of Florida there's been a candidate such as I who carries the perspective of people of struggle,'' said the 44-year-old Democratic congressman, the only major black Senate candidate in the country. ``My heart is full this morning as we continue to march on to victory.''

For Meek, victory is having run the race at all.

He was the first to jump at Florida's open U.S. Senate seat, a full week before President Obama's inauguration in January, 2009. He got his name on the ballot the hard way, collecting signatures from 140,000 voters instead of writing a check. On Sunday night, he began a 24-hour, stopping-only-for-gas, campaign spree that will take him from Jacksonville to Pompano Beach to a rally with former President Bill Clinton in Orlando.

So why aren't Democrats unifying behind their duly elected nominee?

The reasons include his shortcomings as a candidate and a congressman; the absence of a full-throated commitment from the national party; a big-spending primary rival who sullied his image; and a conservative grassroots surge that drove Gov. Charlie Crist out of the GOP and boosted Republican Marco Rubio to the forefront of the national scene.

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