Jeff Greene and supporters.(Greene for Senate)
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Greene Tries for Senate

Jewish candidate has mom on Florida campaign trail

Marc Tracy
August 24, 2010
Jeff Greene and supporters.(Greene for Senate)

Today, Rep. Kendrick Meek faces real estate maven Jeff Greene in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary. If polls hold, Meek will win, but not for Greene’s lack of trying—and not for Greene’s lack of playing the heritage card. “My Jeff, he’ll shake things up in Washington,” the candidate’s mother, Barbara of West Palm Beach, is quoted telling Florida voters.

The Forward’s Nathan Guttman explored the particulars of the race: How Meek, a four-term African-American congressman, overcame the initial lead that Greene, a self-made billionaire, had built; how establishment Democrats, most of whom back Meek, worry that a Greene victory will tamp down black turnout come November. And then there is how Greene has tried to take attention away from his personal life—which apparently at one point featured an L.A. “love den” that hosted Mike Tyson and Paris Hilton (not necessarily at the same time)—with subtle references to his background.

Did I say subtle? Yesterday, Greene took Meek on over Israel. “As a Jewish-American man who grew up in a Jewish household,” he said in a statement, “and whose grandmother, mother, and sister are Jewish educators, has studied in Israel and taught Hebrew—it is without a doubt that I have a better understanding of Jewish issues.”

Of course, two can play that game. On Sunday, Meek magnanimously “forgave” Greene for his attacks—at a black church. We all, it seems, have our own landsmen.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.