Harris loses chief of staff, says he'll still help in race
In her four years in Congress, dozens of aides, including four chiefs of staff, have resigned. Two campaign managers have quit her Senate race.
By ANITA KUMAR
Published June 10, 2006
WASHINGTON - Senate candidate Katherine Harris lost another key staffer this week, the latest in a long line of employees to leave her congressional and campaign offices in recent months.
Fred Asbell, chief of staff in Harris' congressional office, left Thursday to pursue business consulting and development work.
Harris downplayed Asbell's departure, saying he is merely moving to her campaign as a paid adviser.
"He's very political and very wise,'' Harris said Friday. "The campaign needs Fred more than Congress does right now.''
Harris faces three lesser-known opponents in the Republican primary in September. She is expected to win easily but will face an uphill battle against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Since arriving in Washington almost four years ago, Harris has seen dozens of congressional staffers come and go. Asbell is the fourth chief of staff to leave.
In recent months, she also has lost key campaign staffers, including two campaign managers and several senior advisers.
Scott Weaver, Harris' legislative director, will take over the chief of staff job while retaining his current duties.
Gerry Fritz, Harris' congressional spokesman, said the change will not be a problem for the congressional office, which will shut down in January no matter the outcome of the Senate election.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a statement this week questioning Harris' ability to retain staff members.
"If Katherine Harris can't accomplish the basic task of keeping a staff in place in her office, how can she be trusted to function as an advocate for Florida?'' committee spokesman Phil Singer said.
Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.
[Last modified June 10, 2006, 07:14:02]
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