GOP SENATE CANDIDATE CHALLENGES HARRIS By Roxanne Escobales08/04/06
Today the four Republican candidates in the race for their partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nomination to run for the US Senate District 13 seat spoke to the Belleair Republican WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Club. The four include three low profile candidates alongside US Representative Katherine Harris, a politician famous for her role in controversy.
Club president Petey Henning requested that when speaking the candidates follow Ronald ReaganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 11th commandment, which says Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow RepublicanÃ¢â‚¬?. The first candidate to speak, LeRoy Collins Jr, however, chose not to heed Henning. Speaking about Katherine Harris he said:
ACT: LeRoy: Her notoriety has infected us allÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ ask her to withdraw from the race for the benefit of the country, the state and her self-respect.
Harris gained international recognition with her role as FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Secretary of State who oversaw the 2000 presidential election recount fiasco. This past year it was revealed that she accepted 32 thousand dollars in illegal campaign contributions from a defense contractor who has admitted to bribing another congressman. And since she started running for the US Senate, four of her campaign managers have quit on her, citing her irregular behavior. Last week the press reported on a leaked letter from the state party chairman to Harris asking the congresswoman to step down from the race. The latest scandal to emerge is revelations that she received a grand jury subpoena to give evidence which she hid from one of her former campaign managers.
Talking the press after the event Harris did not seem to take CollinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ seriously.
ACT: if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re falling so far behind maybe itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good press gimmickÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
And then violating ReaganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 11th Commandment herself, Harris added:
ACT: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kind of silly to ask someone to leave who is just trouncing them in the pollsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Collins, a retired two star admiral, is the son of the former Democratic Florida governor of the same name. Collins junior switched to the Republican party 20 years ago. He spent most of his allotted time talking about his family members and friends. But through audience questions it was revealed that while Collins sticks to the party line by being hard on immigration, complacent about offshore drilling and against gay marriage, he supports keeping abortion legal.
And while candidates were under instruction to keep it clean, audience members certainly were free to cast suspicion on the Republican hopefuls. One woman held up a picture of candidate Will McBride, an immigration attorney from Orlando whose father is Mexican. The photo showed McBride leading a pro-immigration parade earlier this year. The woman asked McBride how he could say he was against amnesty for immigrants when this photo suggested otherwise. McBride said his position has never changed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he has always been against amnesty for immigrants, even when he was marching with them.
McBride is HarrisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s closest opponent whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s campaign experienced a surge in the polls last week, showing support from him rising to 22 percent from 6 percent.
Another woman asked McBride a curious question about his identity:
ACT: why change name from Rodriguez to mcbride?
McBride went up to the lady after the event to find out why she asked that question.
ACT: I said where did you get that information?Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. the campaign.
McBrideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s campaign manager informed WMNF that the lady was wearing a Harris campaign sticker. But Harris denied any knowledge that people would be asking questions like that.
ACT: absolutely not
The fourth candidate, Peter Monroe has experience in the government as a civil servant. He was the Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Housing Authority under the first Presdent Bush, and headed the agency responsible for cleaning up the savings and loans crisis of the XX. But Monroe is not well known. WMNF asked him if he thought he could win with such little name recognition.
A July 27th poll showed Katherine Harris leading the GOP candidates with 40 percent support from Republicans. Will McBride follows at 21 percent, then Collins at 6 percent. Monroe tails with 3 percent support. Thirty percent are undecided.
The primaries take place on September 5th.