U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek was in Pensacola on Aug. 7 as part of his “Real Dem Express” tour of the state. The IN caught up with him at the Seville Diner.
Before sitting down for breakfast, Meek helped two ladies who were having trouble with their car overheating in the parking lot. Several people were trying to help them open the car hood when Meek, a former state trooper, walked up and popped the top to help cool the engine. He then invited the ladies to join him for breakfast with his son and campaign staff.
When IN arrived, Rep. Meek was polishing off a stack of pancakes with his new friends. Pensacola mayoral candidate Ashton Hayward had stopped by when he saw Meek’s bus in the parking lot, as did Lumon May and Pensacola City Councilwoman Maren DeWeese. Sheriff David Morgan was in the diner eating breakfast and walked over to introduce himself to Meek. They each gave the congressman their perspectives on the BP oil disaster.
On Friday, Meek had spent the evening in Destin where he attended a fishermen’s forum at Harbor Docks. He later shared what he had learned from those discussions.
Meek was pleased with the Mason-Dixon poll that mirrored a poll that his campaign had paid for recently. At the time, the Jeff Greene camp had disputed the results, but the Mason-Dixon result validates the other survey. Meek has gone from 10 points behind to four points ahead.
“The Democratic primary will be decided by Democrats,” Meek said. “They know that I reflect the values of the party and am the best candidate for the party in the general election.”
Meek said he is encouraged by what he is hearing in Northwest Florida when it comes to the BP disaster.
“The real ideas on dealing with this are coming from the local level.”
He pledged his support to help rebuild the economy and restore the environment and said he is disappointed that the energy bill in Congress has lost some of its momentum.
“The energy bill has slowed down a lot as the questions surface about the oil industry jobs in the Gulf Coast states and the future of oil exploration in the Gulf…can it be done safely while protecting the environment and local economies?
“You are going to start hearing people argue that the federal government is over-reaching, interfering with small businesses,” Meek added. “That’s not the case. We all need to know that if something goes wrong offshore, the company is able to correct and stop it.”
He continued, “It will be years before we fully understand the effect of the dispersants and millions of gallons of oil in our waters.”
Since first announcing his candidacy in 2009, Meek has made over a half-dozen trips to Pensacola, which is very unusual for a Democratic candidate seeking a statewide or national office.
“I have sat in Democratic Party meetings, and the officials from the north Florida counties complain about how no one votes Democrat up here,” Meek shared as he boarded his bus. “I made up my mind that I was going to change that. I wanted the people of Northwest Florida to get to know Kendrick Meek.
“And by coming here, I’ve learned more about what’s really happening in Northwest Florida. This area is vital to public policy, and I have laid the groundwork to come back and work with the local leaders after I’m elected.”