30 May 2005

Senator Katherine Harris? It's very possible!

Republicans are waiting. Democrats are waiting. Will Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) challenge Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) for his seat next year? Republicans appears to be discouraging her from running, likely out of fear that her candidacy would be too polarizing and could hurt GOP candidates down the ballot. Democrats are salivating at the thought she will run, hoping to retaliate against the former state secretary of state who they feel handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000. A Harris campaign appears to be a lose-lose situation for everyone. So, will she run? Conventional wisdom says that she won't, but conventional wisdom may just be wrong. Don't be surprised if Katherine Harris is the next junior senator from the Sunshine State.

Harris has positioned herself well. She brings a lot to the table, and many of her liabilities are greatly outweighed by her assets. First, she comes from one of the most famous families in Florida. Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., the citrus and cattle magnate and former Democratic state senator, is Harris' grandfather, therefore the name itself is a hot commodity.

Harris also has incredible access to GOP contributors. After the 2000 election debacle, she was vilified by those on the left, but the right-wing base of the Republican Party still consider her a hero. Many on the right credit her with the Bush victory, and they will not forget her when it comes time to run. Harris herself says that she would have no problem raising the necessary $25 million to beat Nelson.

The Democrats are already starting to label Harris as an ultraconservative Republican who is out of step with average Floridians, but that accusation may not stick. Harris has quite successfully taken a page from Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-New York) playbook on moving to the middle. Just as Senator Clinton is one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate, Harris has adopted some liberal and centrist positions which would help her tremendously along the I-4 corridor and with swing voters in general. Two weeks ago, Harris hosted a Summit on Pornography: Obscenity Enforcement, Corporate Participation and Violence Against Women and Children. This role allows Harris to position herself on the side of soccer moms and all parents who are starting to wonder why Florida has seen so many sex crimes against children recently.

Harris also lists her priority issues, which include Homeland Security and the War on Terror, Honoring our Veterans, Housing, Liberty in Iraq, Medicare and Prescription Drugs, Protecting our Children, Retirement Security, and Revitalizing our Economy. Harris' list is very similar to that on Senator Clinton's web page.

Perhaps Harris' greatest strength is not of her doing, but rather that of the Democrats. When you mention Harris' name to a hardcore Democrat, they take it very seriously - often too seriously. There are still Democrats in Florida who honestly believe the 2000 election was stolen, and they hold Harris directly responsible.

Senator Nelson should be concerned by a Harris candidacy, because it would surely draw out the looniest of all the left-wing groups. MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, and similar groups funded by George Soros would be moving to the Sunshine State just to attack Harris fulltime. Just like in 2004, the Republicans would be able to flip the table and turn the discussion away from the attacks and toward the attackers. The Bush campaign did this beautifully, and I would expect a similar tactic in Florida next year.


Anonymous tdog said...

I know this site attracts a lot of Dem cheerleaders who will instantly dismiss the thought that Kitty Harris can win. Well, she can.

Nelson is very weak and the RNC has made him their #1 target. As much as it pains me to say it, Harris could realistically beat Nelson.

That's why Dems need to start taking things seriously, like discussing the points from this blog. Polls just showed that 53% of Americans would vote for Hillary Clinton for President. No one would have expected that 6 months ago. Harris could reinvent herself and see the same kind of change.

10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Democrats do take Katherine Harris seriously, and I think they will beat her if she runs. She has a lot of baggage and Democrats will remind voters. Nelson appeals to voters from both parties and Harris doesn't have that crossover appeal.

3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:23:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I agree....

Harris would make a good candidate to run against because she has a lot more baggage.

Also, I point out that Harris has had competitive races in her district, winning but not by overwhelming margins.

She will be tough but I believe we would easily beat her. Plus, Nelson polls the best against her according to some inside polls I have seen.

4:25:00 PM  
Blogger thelastdem said...

We won't beat anyone easily anytime soon, though I agree that Harris does give Nelson--an otherwise highly vulnerable Senator---the best chance at six more years.

I think even the best case scenario provides Nelson with a 4-5 point win, certainly not a landslide. And if anyone needs to reinvent himeself, it is Nelson---who quite frankly, simply needs to invent himself.

The good news, IMHO, is that if they are now waiting on Harris, they are truly bottom-feeding. If they had a better candidate, we would know by now.

11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Yep.... a 4 to 5 point win in Florida though tends to be an easy victory these days.


I like Nelson's chances against her but it is still very early.

12:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Nelson can and should be beat. He his wishie washie(sp?)and trys to appear to all. The one can knock his socks off is Jeb. However, I do not think Jebby would like being just one of 100, and being the bottom of 100. Too bad b/c Nelson is an empty suit.

3:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Nelson is no Ben Nelson. Ben is the other US Senator that was part of a deal making team that keeps the Senate moving. Bill just goes where he sees the political airflow. He will never be anything other than a get-along bench warmer.

I hope someone will take him out.

4:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Cutler said...

As a lifelong Floridian, I know that Harris is outside the mainstream. Despite my being a very liberal Floridian, I still support Nelson's re-election. This is not a solid red state like, say, Utah or Idaho or Mississippi. There are still more registerd Democrats in Florida than there are Republians. Those chose the Democratic Party for a reason. I believe we are still that party. Yes, we have progressive positions on certain social issues, but why on earth does what happens in Massachusetts or Illinois or Utah socially affect Floridians. I challenge people to ask themselves this: is it really worth voting for a Republican who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk on say choice in women's health care when what he spends a lot of time doing is lining the pocket of people on Wall Street who lives in multimillion dollar homes in Westchester County in New York (I believe that is the county just due north of the city that is really rich). Democrats, at least true Democrats, have always and will always have the best interests of the lower and middle class in mind.

Re-Elect Senator Bill Nelson 2006!

6:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelson is the great final hope. That should scare any Democrat.

1:20:00 PM  

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