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This report over the weekend wasn't good for the top Democratic Senate candidate in Florida.

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's former chief of staff received $13,000 from a developer accused of stealing funds from a failed biopharmaceutical complex, according to newly released records.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that the former aide, Anthony D. Williams, received the money to make a down payment on a home as Meek was championing the proposed Poinciana Park project.
Williams told the paper Meek was unaware the transaction.

It looks like Meek was screwed by his chief of staff, and there's nothing to suggest the congressman had any knowledge of the kickback. But for a candidate who has had a tough time gaining traction, it doesn't help. And it's particularly dangerous to Meek given the broader context:

Go ahead and filter out Rasmussen polling, and Crist suddenly has a 38-31-18 lead. That's not pretty for Meek, who has taken a dive ever since Gov. Charlie Crist ditched the GOP for his independent bid. The last thing Meek needs is more reasons for Democrats (and Indies) to abandon his ship for the governor's. Because I suspect many of them are looking for just such reasons.

Look for Eric Johnson, Robert Wexler's very sharp political strategist and former congressional chief of staff, to start working on the Charlie Crist campaign soon. Nothing's official yet - Johnson declined to confirm it today - but Crist told he's been talking to Johnson this week. The campaign manager is Crist's sister, Margaret Wood.

Wexler and Crist are very tight, and it's fair to assume a Wexler endorsement will be coming at some point.

That's this Wexler:

Wexler book

For his part, Crist gets to keep moving left.

Consider that Crist vetoed the teacher-tenure bill, will likely veto an abortion proposal and is calling for a special session to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot banning offshore oil drilling.

The combination of soaring poll numbers, shifting ideology, and institutional support from key Democrats may be enough to render Meek irrelevant in the race, if not outright pushed aside.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:18 PM PDT.

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