At a time when the Florida electorate is growing increasingly diverse, the Republican party is gearing up to field an all-male, all-white slate in 2010.
In contrast, the Democratic front-runners for the top of the ticket are U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a 42-year-old African American running for the U.S. Senate, and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for governor, who would be the state's first female chief executive. A handful of Hispanic and Jewish Democrats are potentially in the mix for attorney general and chief financial officer.
"It's something I see as an advantage for Florida voters, that the Democratic ticket could end up looking like it represents Florida's population," said Ana Cruz, a top Meek advisor.
The Republican front-runners for statewide office include Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate, Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor, Senate President Jeff Atwater for chief financial officer and U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam for agriculture commissioner. Putnam is the only one of the GOP candidates under 50 years old.
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To be sure, the Republican and Democratic lineups could change, with 18 months left before the 2010 election. What's more, a diverse ticket doesn't guarantee success.
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who was better known than Sink, lost the Democratic primary for governor in 2002 to Sink's husband, Bill McBride.
When a black former state senator named Daryl Jones ran for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket in 2006, exit polls showed Crist garnered unprecedented black support for a statewide Republican.
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