Replacing Katherine Harris

I’m devoting some space in Political Whore this week to breaking down the Democratic primary in Congressional District 13 in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the seat now held by Katherine Harris. The GOP’s lightning rod is moving up for a U.S. Senate race, so her seat is open. Already there is a spirited Democratic primary, a rematch from 2004’s race between Jan Schneider (won the nomination; lost to Harris 55%-45%) and Christine Jennings, who is being assisted by national Democratic leaders like Rahm Emmanuel, Barbara Boxer and Steny Hoyer.

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Here are some outtakes from my story, which will be online Wednesday and on newsstands that same day:

I asked Jennings, a successful banker, about the early intervention by Democratic leaders, something they have not done in the past. “They have analyzed how to win races, and they understand that you must step out earlier,” Jennings said. “Rahm Emmanuel called me the second day he was appointed to the position of the chair of the DCCC, and I said ‘Rahm, I’ve been working since November (2004).’”

“Hoyer’s PAC is maxed out" its financial contributions, and [Congressman] Wexler and Sen. John Kerry sent checks, too. "I’ve got the leadership,” she continued. “Hoyer did [a fundraiser last week], Barbara boxer did one in December. Hoyer said we want to make sure you understand that Christine Jennings can get the crossover votes from the independents and the Republican to win this race. And she has the organization put together, and the support from the national leaders.”

Schneider, who finds herself on the outside looking in despite winning two primaries, in 2002 and 2004, counters that Jennings’ close friends in the national party will make it impossible for her to win those crossover voters. “I still would not ask Hillary [Clinton] to come down here, and I’m a big Hillary supporter,” Schneider said. “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party is we’re trying to be pale imitations of the Republicans. Democrats are never going to be as organized as Republicans. The fact is that the national Democratic Party is floundering. We’re letting ourselves get killed by wedge issues. It’s a reach-out beyond party instead of just intense partisanship that is tearing us apart.”

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