Katherine Harris Bets $10 Million on Senate Bid

Katherine Harris has decided to spend $10 million of her inheritance to revive her moribund Senate race. The move, announced on last night’s “Hannity and Colmes,” surprised many observers who thought she was going to announce that she was dropping out of the race. Others were not so surprised.

“Katherine Harris moves in ways so mysterious that the designs of the creator seem transparent by comparison,” said J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a Republican strategist who advised Harris during the 2000 presidential recount.

Still, she faces some long odds:

At the end of 2005, Nelson had $8-million on hand; Harris had $1-million. She loaned her campaign $250,000 in the last fundraising quarter. U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, an Orlando-area Republican who has been a close friend of hers since their days in the Florida Legislature, said he had expected Harris to have already raised $8-million or $10-million and to have closed the gap with Nelson to six or eight percentage points. “It’s a little disappointing it’s taken this long,” he said.

A March 6-9 poll of 1,000 registered voters in Florida voters by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research found Nelson beating Harris 45 percent to 23 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

While popular with many rank-and-file Republicans, she is not beloved by the party elite.

She first wanted to run for the Senate in 2004, when Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, retired. Republicans dissuaded her, fearing that her presence would energize Democrats still smarting from the recount and hurt Mr. Bush’s re-election chances as he campaigned in this pivotal state.

Nor did Republican leaders rejoice when Ms. Harris, granddaughter of a citrus and cattle baron, announced last June that she would challenge Mr. Nelson in 2006. The White House and Gov. Jeb Bush even tried to recruit other candidates, which Ms. Harris said stung. “Of course, I would enjoy their support and their enthusiasm tremendously,” she said.

Ms. Harris said her father, who died in January, would have wanted her to spend her inheritance, which she described as “everything that I have,” on the race. “This levels, temporarily, the playing field,” she said. “We are at ground zero. We are recharged, restarting and ready to win.”

This strikes me as an incredibly stupid move. I have long figured that a candidate’s inability to raise money was a sure sign that they had no support. That said, I thought the same thing when John Kerry bet his wife’s inheritance in financing his run for the 2004 Democratic nomination that Howard Dean so obviously had wrapped up.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    Harris is my congresscritter. She has been so bad on so many issues–including the DPW debacle–that I’ll support any Rep. who faces her in a primary. Not sure if I could actually vote for a Dem. in the election, but if she keeps doing stupid stuff, I suspect I can.

    More sweater pictures might influence my vote, however. Unless her opposition, well, you know….

  2. MrGone says:

    You go girl! I hope she ends up pennyless.