One of the more embarrassing campaigns for the GOP this cycle is the Senate race in Florida. The election should give Republicans a chance at a pickup; after all, George Bush won the state twice and his brother Jeb remains very popular as governor. However, the Republican candidate has squandered all of these advantages and has dropped far behind the incumbent, Bill Nelson. The national party decided in May that Harris has no chance in the general election, and apparently did not get shy about sharing that opinion:
The state Republican Party bluntly told Rep. Katherine Harris that she couldn’t win this fall’s Senate election and that the party wouldn’t support her campaign, a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press shows.
Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan made a last-ditch attempt in the confidential May 7 letter to force Harris out of the race for the nomination to challenge Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson. But the next day, Harris turned in paperwork to get her name on the Sept. 5 Republican primary ballot. …
The letter to Harris listed major obstacles, including coverage of campaign contributions she took from a defense contractor, Mitchell Wade, who later pleaded guilty to bribing another congressman.
Harris has said that she wasn’t aware of the illegal contributions and that she was only trying to bring high-wage jobs to her district when she tried to help Wade’s company, MZM Inc., get a federal contract.
Polls by Quinnipiac and others show Harris trailing Nelson by well over 30 points, a laughable deficit that the GOP rightly deduced could not be overcome. They have pushed other candidates into the Florida primary to oppose Harris, but she leads all of them handily. Unfortunately, it looks like Harris has the primary locked up.
The only way the GOP can get back on track would be to find a high-profile candidate willing to enter the race. It would have to be someone with high name recognition and solid popularity among Floridians. The one man who meets all of these qualifications also has an opening in his schedule, as he will reach a term-limit end to his current position. Unfortunately, Jeb Bush says he’s not interested:
Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday he would not be part of a bizarre plan Republican strategists have contemplated to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as a candidate for U.S. Senate. …
Speaking with reporters after addressing a graduation ceremony for Florida Highway Patrol recruits, Bush called the plan nonsensical and said he would not run for U.S. Senate.
“I think that’s purely hypothetical,” he said. “It ain’t going to be me.”
I’m not sure why it’s “nonsensical”. George Allen went from Governor to Senator and has managed the transition smoothly. All the Republicans wanted was to have Jeb enter the primary to give Republicans a fighting chance for the seat. If Jeb doesn’t want the job, that’s understandable and even commendable, but the notion is hardly “bizarre”, as the Tallahassee Democrat described it.
Unless someone can convince Jeb to reconsider, it looks like Bill Nelson can laugh his way to re-election this year.