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Harris rival to air ads in Republican primary

The TV ad for Will McBride, an underdog candidate for the Senate nomination, claims votes for Katherine Harris will ultimately be wasted.

By ANITA KUMAR
Published August 25, 2006


U.S. Senate candidate Will McBride will begin airing TV ads across the state on Saturday as he tries to catch front-runner Katherine Harris in the Republican primary.

In the ad, the Orlando attorney argues that Republicans should not waste their votes on Harris, whose campaign has been plagued by one problem after another, including a federal inquiry into her relationship with a convicted briber.

"Congress is broken. Spending is out of control. Scandals dominate the news. And, unfortunately, Katherine Harris is part of the problem," McBride says in the ad. "The race for the U.S. Senate is too important and we can still win. Republicans, don't throw in the towel."

The 30-second ad, which will air on 30 channels across the state, will run up until the Sept. 5 primary.

The TV ads are the first since McBride and two others jumped into the race to challenge Harris on the last day to qualify in May. Harris, a two-time congresswoman from the Sarasota area, aired statewide TV ads before she had opponents, responding to members of her own party encouraging her to quit.

"I never give up," Harris said in the ad. "I never give in. I will not quit. In the U.S. Senate, I will fight for Florida and for you with all my heart."

McBride said his first goal was to establish credibility among Republican activists across the state before running the ads.

"It was critical to meet with GOP voters and let them know there is an electable alternative to Katherine Harris," he said. "Our campaign ... is winning wide Republican support.

"We are counting on the television campaign to introduce me to GOP voters as the conservative who can be elected on Sept. 5, and against Bill Nelson on Nov. 7." Nelson is the Democratic incumbent senator.

McBride and Harris are vying for the Republican nomination along with retired Adm. LeRoy Collins of Tampa and Safety Harbor developer Peter Monroe.

On Thursday, Collins called on McBride to clarify his position on illegal immigration and his participation with groups that want to defeat immigration reform bills in Congress.

Specifically, Collins mentioned McBride's participation in a Tampa march in May and a Spanish-language TV ad McBride taped for his law firm about immigration reform.

"I can understand an attorney who represents immigrants drumming up support for his law business, but I cannot understand how weeks later he can file as a candidate and claim to be supportive of substantive immigration reform," Collins said. "The actions don't support the words."

Jack St. Martin, McBride's campaign manager, questioned Collins' timing and why it came on the day that McBride announced his TV ads.

"It's just a desperate act by a campaign being left behind," he said. "The timing is not coincidental."

Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Anita Kumar can be reached at 202 463-0576 or akumar@sptimes.com.