My, everything must be going really poorly for a girl to bedumped by Ken Mehlman, right?
When Charlie Crist won Florida’s gubernatorial primary, the Republican National Committee dashed off a note of congratulations and posted it on the party Web site.
“Charlie Crist,” wrote Chairman Ken Mehlman, “has the character and credentials to successfully lead Florida as Governor.”
Mehlman did the same for 10 other GOP congressional and gubernatorial candidates. But U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, once a rising Republican star, got nothing.
In fact, her victory in the Senate primary wasn’t mentioned by the RNC or the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Though that may seem like an oversight, there are few accidents in politics.
“When someone is left out, it’s almost always done intentionally,” said Todd Harris, a GOP consultant who was part of Jeb Bush’s 2002 re-election campaign. “If nobody’s standing next to you, they’re saying they don’t want to be associated with you.”
This month, after Harris beat three unknowns in the primary, she was not invited to the Republican “Unity Tour,” a statewide victory lap that featured virtually every prominent GOP candidate in Florida.
Also, our Kathie is caught in yet another lie.
After the Unity Tour, she smiled through a barrage of awkward questions saying she took no offense at being left off the guest list. She wasn’t worried, she said, because she had her own trip planned, one featuring the state’s most powerful Republican.
“We’ll have our own Unity Tour,” Harris said while campaigning in Orlando. “We will be traveling with the governor.”
That was news to the state party and Bush.
GOP officials said there was no such agreement, and the governor’s chief political spokeswoman said she didn’t know what Harris was talking about.
“There are no plans for a fly-around or another victory tour,” said Karen Unger, a Bush adviser and manager of his 2002 campaign. The governor, she said, would be spending “the overwhelming majority” of his time on other races.
To observers, the message was clear.
“They’re not going anywhere near her,” said University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato. “She’s radioactive.”
An RNC spokesman would not say how, or whether, the committee was helping Harris directly, but Mehlman suggested it was unlikely.
Mehlman said, “I support Katherine, and I like her” but added that he was deferring to Florida officials on how to distribute national GOP money. And the state party, Mehlman said, had told him to target House races and the governor’s race.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee did not return calls, but that committee appears to be overlooking Harris as well. Its Web site includes reports on Senate primaries from a half-dozen states but makes no mention of Florida.
Former Harris campaign manager Jim Dornan said Harris has become a liability for the GOP. Virtually no one thinks she can win, he said, and many worry she may hurt the Republican ticket by bringing out Democrats eager to vote against her. For that reason, he said, GOP leaders are trying to marginalize her.
“My understanding is they’re not going to give her a dime,” said Dornan, a veteran Republican consultant based in Washington.