Dispatches > The Buzz

Flashtraffic: Florida Republicans are in a pickle.

Florida Republicans would love to pick up the seat of Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who is running for president and is undecided about a fourth term.

Issue: "Troops hunt for weapons," June 14, 2003

Florida Republicans are in a pickle. They'd love to pick up the seat of Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who is running for president and is undecided about a fourth term. He's unlikely to win his party's presidential nomination, but by hailing from the Sunshine State-so narrowly lost by Gore-Lieberman in 2000-he's certainly a plausible V.P. pick. If Sen. Graham were tapped to become a running mate, his Senate seat would be ripe for a credible GOP nominee. That's the problem. Former Rep. Bill McCollum wants the nod, but he lost last time and GOP money types don't think he's got enough pizzazz to pull it off. Rep. Mark Foley, the five-term incumbent from the 16th Congressional District around Palm Beach, wants a shot, too. But he's busy fending off talk that he's a closet homosexual. "In recent weeks, a number of Democratic activists have taken it upon themselves to push rumors about me," the congressman said during a conference call with reporters. There's no hard evidence Democrats are fanning the flames, but such rumors-neither specifically confirmed nor denied by Rep. Foley-have been circulating among Florida Republican political circles for years. Conservatives in the state haven't pressed for the truth before. But now that Mr. Foley is already on the defensive, GOP strategists worry if it's true he could be "outed" during the general election and end up losing conservative support. A new name buzzing about: freshman Republican Rep. Katherine Harris.

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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