Former Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla.—who was soundly defeated last year in a three-way race to succeed appointed Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla.—has received new marching orders from the White House.
Last month, President Obama nominated Meek as a U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly, where he will work alongside Ambassador Susan Rice on a host of issues ranging from climate change to famine in East Africa.
Currently president of KBM Solutions, a Miami-based consulting firm, Meek expects to suspend his private-sector work to meet the demands of his new appointment. “I don’t see where time is going to permit me to do both,” he told National Journal. The former four-term House member will relocate to New York City in time for the opening of the 66th session of the U.N. on September 13.
In last year’s midterm elections, Meek was routed by former state legislator Marco Rubio, who garnered 49 percent of the vote. By tapping into the indignation of the tea party movement—and eschewing negative spots in favor of paeans to his Latino roots—Rubio staved off challenges from Meek and outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran as an independent. Eclipsed by the contest between Rubio and Crist—portrayed in the news media as a proxy for divisions within the Republican Party—Meek won only 20 percent of the vote. Crist got 30 percent.
But Meek’s tenacity impressed at least one of his compatriots. After the campaign, Obama telephoned to offer good wishes and gauge his interest in an administration appointment. “Absolutely,” Meek responded.
Last week, Meek met with former Gov. George Pataki, R-N.Y., who was a delegate to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. Much like Congress, the U.N. is contradictory in nature: a languorous body given to spasms of activity. But in his conversation with NJ, Meek pointed to one crucial difference: The U.N. is less inclined to political theater.
This debt-ceiling debate “definitely had the makings of a good drama,” he said.