Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Harris Cratering?

From Scott Maxwell in the Orlando Sentinel:

If you heard a big implosion during the weekend, it may have been the sound of Katherine Harris’ campaign.

After continuously running way behind Democrat Bill Nelson in the polls, Harris is now facing a barrage of bad press involving allegedly illegal campaign contributions she took from a defense contractor at the center of a Washington bribery scandal. Her hometown paper, Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune, says she has canceled campaign stops, describing her bid for the U.S. Senate as being in “full crisis mode.”

There’s now serious speculation that Harris may finally do on her own what some of the Republican Party wanted all along: Drop out.

But before Dems get too excited about thwarting Harris, they may want to take a step back. Harris, after all, was the best Republican thing to happen to Democrats since Mallard Fillmore hit the comics pages.

Harris gave Nelson a slam dunk. A replacement might not. Expect to hear rumblings about folks like South Florida Congressman Mark Foley — though Jeb (I’m-not-running) Bush is still the party’s best hope.

If Harris drops out and Foley steps in, he may have his own problems; he made a feint at running in 2004 but dropped out when it became clear that Mel Martinez was the White House favorite and rumors started going around that he’s not exactly the poster-boy for “traditional family values” — he’s a single guy, not married, and has a “roommate;” the kind of thing that doesn’t play well up-state where Brokeback Mountain isn’t on the top-ten movie list. As for Jeb running for the Senate… it would certainly be an interesting twist to the saga of the one Bush son that was supposed to be the true successor to Poppy. Stay tuned.

Update: As Bryan notes, VP Dick Cheney conspicuously did not mention Ms. Harris’s name during a recent visit to Florida:

“As vice president, I look forward to the opportunity to swear in a new Republican senator to serve next to Mel Martinez in the United States Senate,” Cheney said during a re-election luncheon for Rep. Clay Shaw in Boca Raton.

Take a hint, Cruella: the ride’s over.