Katherine Harris Hints at Bid for Congress

July 7, 2008 - 8:27 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris Monday revealed that her eyes are set on a potential bid for U.S. Congress in 2002.

The former centerpiece of last winter's late night presidential election humor, Harris endured heaps of personal and political criticism from Democrats who say she handed the election to George Bush.

But instead of retreating into obscurity, Harris appears to be looking to the future.

Harris paid a visit to Upstate South Carolina Monday to speak at a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). In her speech to the estimated 150 supporters in Spartanburg, Harris said, "We're talking about it," referring to her possible election campaign.

The office of the secretary says Harris is consulting with those close to her, but has not made a conclusive decision about when, or even whether, she will launch a campaign for the 2002 elections.

"We are receiving encouragement from different quarters to pursue the 2002 election," said David Host, Harris' director of communications. "She is talking to her family and supporters about that, but nothing has been announced and nothing has even been planned on an official announcement."

But while Harris seeks to use her brief television appearances to win a House seat, Florida Democrats, including Tony Welch, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, believe Harris' run could come back to hurt not only herself, but the Republican Party.

"There is no more polarizing figure than Katherine Harris," Welch said. "And her on a ballot anywhere is going to help put Democrats in office. When she announces, she will help our base turn out."

The Florida Republican Party did not return phone calls for comment.

Host says that, because of the 2002 redistricting of congressional lines, they are uncertain exactly which seat Harris would make a bid for should she make the decision to run.

"Obviously it will be in the Sarasota area," he said, "but we are unsure what the seating will look like."

But, according to Welch, Harris would run for the seat of retiring Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.), regardless of what redistricting takes place. "Most pundits don't see them tinkering in that area (Sarasota)," he said.

Miller, who is friends with Harris, says she has been a great public servant and would make a fine candidate.

"I think she has served the state well in her position of secretary of state," Miller said. "Should she choose to run, based upon her performance as secretary of state, I think she would do well in representing the district."

Harris' grandfather, Ben Hill Griffin, after whom the University of Florida's football stadium is named, once made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1974.