tampabay.com

Harris leads in GOP fundraising

By ANITA KUMAR
Published August 27, 2006


WASHINGTON - U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris may have raised far less money than expected but she still managed to collect more than any of her primary opponents.

As they approach the final stretch of the Republican primary, Harris has $2.2-million in the bank while her three relatively unknown rivals have anywhere from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to new fundraising reports.

Orlando lawyer Will McBride had more than $650,000; Safety Harbor developer Peter Monroe had almost $12,000 and retired Adm. LeRoy Collins of Tampa finished the latest fundraising period with no money.

But since Aug. 16, when the reporting period ended, all four candidates have continued to receive thousands of dollars in contributions.

Collins and McBride turned over their latest campaign finance documents to the St. Petersburg Times last week. Harris and Monroe refused.

The documents were due to the U.S. Senate on Thursday and made public on Friday.

Harris has pumped more than $3-million of her own money into her campaign which has been plagued by one problem after another, including an ongoing federal investigation into her relationship with a defense contractor who has since been convicted of bribery in another case.

"It's not about the money. It's about the message and the messenger," McBride said. "You can't buy office. You don't throw money at problems to make them better."

The other candidates are also millionaires and have put in some of their own money.

McBride put in the most, more than $700,000 to help pay for 10 days of statewide TV ads that began Saturday.

Recent polls show that Harris holds a commanding lead over her opponents but almost half of those polled still remain undecided.

The winner of the Sept. 5 primary faces Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Republican operatives and political watchers have said Nelson's opponent needs to raise $20-million to be competitive in the race.

Nelson's campaign has just over $12-million in the bank. That's more than any senator facing re-election except Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. She has about $22-million.

Anita Kumar can be reached at akumar@sptimes.com or 202-463-0576.

SENATE MONEY

LeRoy Collins

* Raised: $114,000

* Personal contributions: $20,000

* Cash on hand: $0

Katherine Harris

* Raised: $4.8-million

* Personal contributions: $3.15-million

* Cash on hand: $2.2-million

Will McBride

* Raised: $271,000

* Personal contributions: $718,000

* Cash on hand: $678,000

Peter Monroe

* Raised: $207,000

* Personal contributions: $195,000

* Cash on hand: $11,900

*As of Aug. 16