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Millionaire might join race for Graham's Senate seat

Jeffrey Saull says he could spend millions of his own money if he becomes the seventh Republican in the field.

By ADAM C. SMITH
Published September 24, 2003

The already-crowded Republican field running for Bob Graham's U.S. Senate seat could get even bigger, as a South Florida millionaire looks at jumping into the race and spending more than $10-million of his own money.

"Nobody in this state wants to go against me. I don't lose," said Jeffrey Saull, an office chair magnate from Vero Beach who said he's talking to advisers about the race and would be prepared to spend $10-million to $20-million on a campaign.

"I'm not just considering it. I'm starting to make arrangements."

Saull, a blunt, self-described liberal Republican and philanthropist, is the the seventh candidate seriously looking at the race. The sixth, conservative activist and Clinton antagonist Larry Klayman, formally announced his candidacy in Tampa on Tuesday, saying he has a national fundraising base unmatched by anyone else in the race.

Saull is a political newcomer little known throughout Florida, but any candidate capable of spending as much as $20-million of his own money - "that's not a cavity for me," he said - could be a serious factor. He had been supporting U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Palm Beach Gardens, but Foley dropped out of the race this month, citing his father's cancer.

In addition to supporting Foley, Saull and his wife, Karen, this year gave $50,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and maximum $2,000 donations to President Bush's re-election campaign.

He is owner of Tijid Inc. and Palm Beach Home Accents, and made millions selling office chairs and candles to Wal-Mart. This month he sued Wal-Mart for more than $1-billion, accusing the retailer and a former partner of conspiring to steal his business.

Meanwhile, Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group that filed scores of lawsuits against the Clinton administration, emerged as another unpredictable candidate for the race. Klayman, a Miami resident whose Washington, D.C. organization also has targeted prominent Republicans including Vice President Dick Cheney and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, said his contacts at Judicial Watch will help him raise $10-million to $20-million nationally.

Democratic Sen. Bob Graham is running for president, but has not ruled out running for another Senate term. Other Republicans looking at running include state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd of Plant City; former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of Longwood; state Sen. Daniel Webster of Winter Garden; U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Palm Bay; and Pinellas County Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd.

- Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or adam@sptimes.com

[Last modified September 24, 2003, 01:34:33]


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