Harris to Drop Senate Bid if Wins GOP Primary?

Perhaps the strangest twist yet in the ongoing Katherine Harris free fall is this Tallahassee Democrat report that Harris has a plan to withdraw from the race if she wins the Republican primary.

It may be wishful thinking, but some Florida Republicans are contemplating what could be the most bizarre turn yet in Rep. Katherine Harris’ beleaguered run for the U.S. Senate. According to their speculation, Harris would withdraw from the race if she wins the GOP primary Sept. 5. Harris has told reporters that she has no plans of withdrawing, but the speculation continues.

State Republican Party executives would then appoint a replacement for Harris, an option under Florida’s newly revised election law. That replacement would face incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, in the November general election. ”I’ve heard a lot of chatter about that,” said David Johnson, a Republican pollster and strategist with close ties to Florida’s GOP. The speculation includes a scenario in which the party’s elite, still clinging to the hope of finding a candidate who can seriously challenge Nelson, would give the nod to whoever finishes second in the Republican gubernatorial primary, Johnson said.

Let’s see….

It’s basically Harris against the world, with the GOP establishment against her almost from the beginning. She’s staked a good bit of her inheritance on bucking those odds. Yet, if she manages to win anyway, she’s going to withdraw and give the race to whoever finishes second? Rather than just throwing her support to whomever her preferred alternative might be?

Somehow, that seems implausible.



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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    I think a lot of this is related to the fact that Harris was operated on last week to remove what the local paper calls, “an ovarian mass”.

    My guess is that she’s running out of steam, but doesn’t want to bail out before winning a last, important victory. That, of course, would include telling the FL GOP to get stuffed.

  2. The only way this makes sense is in a DeLay sort of way. That she has finally recognized that she has no chance of winning, campaign debts will be “retired” by the state GOP so she can get her personal money out of the race and that the best chance of the GOP winning this seat is not with anyone currently in the primary.

    So she wins the primary, quits the race and the state GOP (assuming the rules are at all like Texas), gets to appoint a replacement like Gallagher or Franks. Suddenly the race becomes competitive.

    Is it likely, I don’t know but am skeptical (she doesn’t seem to have captured the nuances of this race before now). But this may be the best way she can get her personal money out of this race as a loss would mean the money was gone for good.