Antiabortion activist Terry to run against Sen. King

Associated Press
Published June 23, 2005

JACKSONVILLE - The battle over Terri Schiavo's life and death will now be refought in a Republican primary between an antiabortion activist who became her parents' spokesman and a state Senate leader who helped block a bill aimed at keeping the brain-damaged woman alive.

Randall Terry, who founded the antiabortion group Operation Rescue and helped lead the effort to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube, officially launched his GOP primary campaign Wednesday to unseat former Senate President Jim King.

Terry, standing with about 25 supporters, said King no longer represents the Republican base. King was one of nine Republicans who teamed with Democrats to block a bill in the 2005 Legislature aimed at keeping Schiavo alive.

"The Terri Schiavo matter was unforgivable to many of the Republican loyalists," said Terry, 46.

King fired back in a phone interview. "I've been a real Republican all my adult life," he said. "I was not a convert. I'm a fiscal conservative and moderate on social issues. My success and voting record would indicate I'm pretty much where much of Florida is."

King has served in the Legislature since 1986. He was Senate president in 2003 and 2004 and can seek re-election just once more because of term limits.

King said he wasn't unsympathetic to the cause of those trying to keep Schiavo alive. He drafted "Terri's Law," which was approved by the Legislature in 2003 and led to reinsertion of the feeding tube. The law was later invalidated by the courts.

But in helping to block the bill in March, King said, "To be kept alive artificially above and beyond your wishes and the wishes you expressed to your family - that is cruel and unusual punishment." He once called his 2003 vote "probably one of the worst votes that I've ever done."

Terry, who has lived in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach for two years, lost a 1998 primary bid for U.S. representative in New York. Terry acknowledges he has been arrested 40 times for antiabortion protests.