Skip to comments.Senate race needs flavor Rep. [Katherine] Harris would bring
Posted on 11/14/2003 12:23:50 PM PST by JohnnyZ
Please, please, please let Katherine Harris run for the U.S. Senate.
Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but things down here have been a little dull so far in the Senate-race department.
The most interesting guy in the race is Johnnie Byrd, who has entertained us as speaker of the state House. But he is interesting in the sense of, "What law won't he ram through in exchange for campaign money?"
A Harris vs. Byrd fight would be spectacular. It would be a case of relentless force meeting shameless object. It would be a thing of beauty, to be studied by scientists.
Having Harris in a fight with Byrd would be more fun than watching The Land That Time Forgot, that 1975 sci-fi classic with all the cheesy, fake-looking dinosaurs fighting.
Here is Harris' genius as a campaigner: She's ruthless. She'll say anything about her opponents, Democrat or Republican (just ask Sandy Mortham, the Republican secretary of state whom Harris nastily unseated in 1998).
You have to look up the names of the rest of the Senate candidates. The other Republicans are Daniel Webster (pretty good name, admittedly), Bill McCollum, some guy named Larry Klayman and even Barbara Sheen Todd, a local county commissioner.
The latest news is that Mel Martinez, who is from Orlando and is the president's housing secretary, might run. The theory is that this turns the race on its ear, etc., because Martinez is a moderate and all those others are conservative. Even Harris said Thursday that if Martinez runs, she might not. But in terms of out-of-the-gate excitement, Martinez is just Some Guy From Orlando.
The Democrats are no more inspiring. There's Alex Penelas from Miami. People have been calling him the Future-of-the-Party for a while now. He is more or less the Prince Charles of Florida.
There is another guy from Miami, a congressman named Peter Deutsch, whom I once watched shamelessly shake down a lobbyist for campaign money at a bar in Tallahassee. The poor victim kept pointing to me and saying, "Have you met my friend from the newspaper? You know, the newspaper?" Deutsch was so focused that he just nodded at me and kept shaking the guy down. I left before Deutsch could hold him up by his ankles and rattle the quarters out of his pockets.
Anyhoo, the only Democrat in the race who has held statewide office is Betty Castor, and so yes, she probably is the front-runner, having been education commissioner and a university president and all that.
This brings us back to Katherine Harris. She is now safely hidden away in the U.S. House, having been elected to that body after her stint as Florida's secretary of state. But she'd throw a bigger jolt into the Senate race than a toaster tossed into a bathtub.
Let's say that Harris then went on to face Castor in the general election. My Democratic friends seem to feel this would be a cakewalk, a matter of Saint Betty triumphing over Cruella De Vil. Phooey to that. Harris would eviscerate Castor, who last ran a statewide election 14 years ago, and is a throwback to a bygone day, sort of a Progressive League of Concerned Citizens kind of candidate.
You don't think Harris could muster an attack against Betty Castor? Duh-wee. Her nickname among Republican gleeful political consultants is "Betty Al-Arian." They are referring to the Islamic think tank that Castor allowed at the University of South Florida, with an unhappy conclusion. Kinda hard to downplay giving safe harbor to, you know, the future chairman of the Islamic Jihad.
It should be said that my smartest Republican friends are terrified of Katherine Harris. They are afraid that she would hurt President Bush's re-election in Florida. But maybe those smart guys are wrong.
Harris has her own star power and would energize the Republicans, too. On top of that, Florida Democrats are such sputtering weenies in running a mainstream campaign. They hate Harris so much that they would be incapable of running an effective campaign.
If the Democrats think they can win a 2004 campaign in Florida by harping all over again about how Harris "stole" the 2000 election, they will gratify themselves at campaign rallies, while everybody else including swing voters will sigh and roll their eyes. (Besides, you wanna know who really got robbed? Rocco Baldelli. But that's a topic for another day.)