Florida Primary Winners For Senate: Meek (D), Rubio (R) : The Two-Way Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio have won their Senate primaries in Florida.
NPR logo Florida Primary Winners For Senate: Meek (D), Rubio (R)

Florida Primary Winners For Senate: Meek (D), Rubio (R)

Republican Marco Rubio talks with a supporter after voting in the primary election in West Miami, Florida, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.  Lynne Sladky/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Lynne Sladky/AP

We now know the official general-election contenders for the Senate seat from Florida.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek has soundly beaten billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene. Meek had about 54 percent of the vote with about half the votes counted.

The outcome wasn't really a surprise since recent polls showed Meek surging. Meek makes history by becoming the first African American to win a nomination in a statewide race in Florida.

On the Republican side in even less of a surprise, Marco Rubio won the nomination with about 84 percent of the vote. A Cuban American and former Florida speaker of the house is popular with members of the Tea Party movement.

The wins by Meek and Rubio set up a three-way Senate race with the third candidate, the popular Gov. Charlie Crist who bolted from the Republican Party earlier this year to run as an independent when the polls strongly indicated that he couldn't beat Rubio.

Both Rubio and Crist have raised significantly more money than Meek which is important since campaigning statewide in Florida requires a significant air war of TV and radio ads.

Also, Meek is a Washington Democrat at a time when voters are taking their anger out on same.

Meek got significant help from former President Bill Clinton to win the Democratic primary.

But while Clinton's help was important in a primary election to help Meek get the party faithful out, the former president's help in the general election would likely not be decisive.

To some degree, it could even hurt Meek with the independent voters he needs to win over to have a chance to win the Senate seat.

So the conventional wisdom is that Meek has quite the uphill battle.

He could benefit however if the anti-Democratic votes winds up splitting between Crist and Rubio.