Saturday, November 20, 2004

Talon News -- Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006 - Andy Grossman

Talon News -- Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006: "Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006
By Jimmy Moore
Talon News
January 19, 2004

SARASOTA, FL (Talon News) -- After months of behind-the-scenes political posturing and speculation, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) announced on Friday that she will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democrat Sen. Bob Graham.

But Harris tricked the crowd of supporters and media that gathered for her statement at the local Boys & Girls Club by revealing that she would be running for the Senate.

"[A]fter careful deliberation, I am here to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate," Harris stated.

After a brisk round of applause from the audience, Harris admitted, "But just not this year."

Harris said she looks forward to running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives this year and helping Republicans make gains in Congress.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert reacted positively to Harris' decision not to run by describing her as "an effective leader who always puts people before politics."

He continued, "I am glad that she plans on continuing her service in the House."

Harris became a household name during the 2000 presidential election in Florida when she certified the election in favor of George W. Bush while serving as Secretary of State during the infamous election recount. Her popularity with conservatives from that unprecedented event paved the way for her to win a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2002.

Some Republicans believed Harris' presence in the Florida U.S. Senate race would have incited a backlash from Democrat voters who would have reminded them of the 2000 presidential election. They even said that her candidacy would have jeopardized President George W. Bush chances of winning reelection.

In fact, Andy Grossman, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was so concerned about Harris running for the U.S. Senate that he had already begun using her as a political pawn designed to rally Democrat supporters to work in this year's elections.

"Please send Katherine Harris a message that we don't want her in the Senate, and won't let her steal any future elections," he wrote in a recent e-mail to supporters.

Grossman called Harris "an election-stealing, right-wing apologist for the radical Republican agenda."

Nevertheless, before her announcement that she would not be running, Harris was leading two recent polls conducted by The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, despite not being an official candidate in the race.

With Harris out of the race, it has become a tightly contested race between the remaining declared Republican candidates.

The Republicans running for the U.S. Senate include outgoing state House Speaker Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr., former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, state Sen. Daniel Webster, state Rep. Mark Adam Foley, Judicial Watch leader Larry Klayman, former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez.

Although she has ruled out a run in 2004, Harris has left the door open for a possible run for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson.

"My decision may surprise those who looked forward to the horse race and the headlines," Harris responded when asked if she would be running in 2006. "Rest assured, all in good time."

As a highly successful GOP fundraiser since the 2000 election, Harris built a $3 million war chest for her 2002 campaign for Congress. As of September, she had raised another $350,000 for her next political race.

The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate race in Florida will be held on August 31.

Copyright © 2004 Talon News -- All rights reserved."

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