tampabay.com

McBride: 'in striking distance'

By ANITA KUMAR
Published September 2, 2006


WEST PALM BEACH — A few weeks ago, on the last day that candidates could get their names removed from the ballot, U.S. Senate candidate Will McBride called two opponents, urging them to get out of the race.

McBride, 34, an Orlando lawyer, said he could beat front-runner Katherine Harris in Tuesday’s GOP primary in a two-way race.

His rivals refused to quit, but McBride still thinks he has the best shot at defeating Harris, a congresswoman from the Sarasota area whose campaign has encountered a series of problems.

“It’s been a response that I’ve just been like 'Wow’ and in just a short amount of time,” McBride said while campaigning outside the Palm Beach Mall last week. “We’re in striking distance. Is it a done deal? No, but we’re in position to win.”

Harris is still considered the favorite, but recent polls indicate the total support of her three rivals combined is more than hers, with almost half the voters undecided.

McBride’s competition also includes retired Adm. LeRoy Collins and Safety Harbor developer Peter Monroe.

McBride initially drew attention because of family wealth and the expectation that the GOP might help him, since Bush adviser Karl Rove knows McBride’s father-in-law, the owner of more than 100 Christian radio stations. His family ties have helped him raise money, provided radio air time and attracted well-known campaign consultants, but the party has stayed neutral. McBride has raised almost $300,000 and put in more than $700,000 of his own.

He stresses the need to curb government spending with a balanced budget and a line-item veto. Collins and Monroe have attacked McBride to clarify his position on illegal immigration and his participation with groups that want to defeat immigration reform bills. The grandson of immigrants from Mexico and the Dominican Republic,

McBride is fluent in Spanish and says he has spent years making inroads with the Spanish community.
“Why would you attack ourselves?” he said. “I thought the objective was to have an alternative to Katherine Harris.”