03 August 2005

Bense will not run for United States Senate

Today, Republican Speaker Allan Bense announced that he will not challenge Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) in the GOP primary for the United States Senate. This news is devastating to Florida Republicans who have been hoping for Harris to leave the race, believing that she cannot defeat the moderate Democratic incumbent, Senator Bill Nelson. Most people believe that she will not only lose to Nelson but possibly drag down the entire GOP ticket.

Harris is still seen as an extremely polarizing individual over her role in the controversial 2000 presidential election. Harris, who that year served as secretary of state, oversaw elections in Florida, and during that time, also served as co-chair of then Governor George W. Bush's presidential campaign. Many people saw these dual roles as a blatant conflict of interest, and Harris has been unable to regain confidence with Florida's voters ever since.

Bense, a former Democrat himself, is seen as left-of-center politically, and many GOP operatives believed he had the best chance to defeat Nelson in a general election. Instead, Bense says that he will focus his efforts on leading the Florida House of Representatives.

Today, Bense issued the following statement:

“After much thought and prayer, and after extensive discussions with my family and friends, I have decided to remain focused on my responsibilities as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives,” said Florida House Speaker Allan Bense. “When I was elected Speaker, I made a commitment to the other 119 Members of the Florida House and to the people of Florida, and it is a commitment I intend to uphold to the best of my ability.

“I greatly appreciate the sincere confidence so many have expressed in me, the enthusiastic encouragement they have given me as well as the candid counsel they have provided. However, I believe it would be extremely difficult to fulfill my duties as Speaker while also running for the United States Senate in a campaign that will attract national attention and require a huge commitment of time and energy.

“Therefore, I have decided that it is in my best interest, my family’s best interest and in the best interest of the Florida House that I do not run for the United States Senate at this time.”

This news is good for Nelson, but Harris shouldn't be ruled out just yet. She is tough and will not go down without a fight. Democrats should hold back on popping the champagne, but it might not hurt to start putting it on ice.

UPDATE (8:07 PM): The Associated Press reports on the Bense decision.

Senator Bill Nelson issued the following statement: "Regardless of who our opponent is, we expect it's going to be a tough race. Between now and election time, I'm just going to keep doing the best job I can for the people of Florida."

Congresswoman Katherine Harris issued the following statement: "Allan Bense is a living example of leadership, solidly grounded in character and integrity. I have long admired him, and deeply value his friendship."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great news, not only for Nelson, but for all Dems on the ticket. Harris will drag down the entire GOP ticket.

7:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I'm not seeing this story anywhere else. I hope it's true. If so, good job on breaking the story.

7:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please God! Let Mark Foley get in this race!!

1:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how the Republicans today are changing their tune and trying to act like they now support Harris.

From the Orlando Sentinel, "Similarly, the governor said he is not going to get involved in any more recruiting."

Any "more" recruiting? Is Bush admitting that he was behind the failed recruitment of Bense?


9:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Nelson is working on serious matters like offshore drilling, Harris is complaining about the press "colorizing" her photos. This race will be a lot of fun to watch.

11:02:00 AM  

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