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Running for Senate?

Former secretary of state and now congresswoman Katherine Harris is expected to announce by Thursday whether she's seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham. Harris could be a lightning rod in the race, but whom she helps or hurts is still uncertain.

During the 2000 recount, democrats made fun of Katherine Harris' makeup and likened her to Cruella Deville, the evil character in 101 Dalmatians. Republicans on the other hand, filled her office with flowers.

It was Harris' pronouncement that George Bush had won even though not all of the ballots had been counted that cemented her image among democrats.

"I think it was clear that Katherine Harris used her position during that election process to get her candidate elected," said Scott Maddox, FL Democratic Party Chairman.

If Harris gets into the race, many believe she immediately becomes the GOP front-runner in a field of unknowns. Former Orange County administrator and HUD secretary Mel Martinez has been the darling of the GOP establishment, political scientists say for good reason.

"They got to figure out a way to bring Hispanics into the party, non-Cuban Hispanics and Mel Martinez could help them do that," said Lance DeHaven Smith, a political scientist.

The conventionalism here is that Harris will get no support whatsoever from the Republican Party is she tried to run in 2004, but if she stayed out the party will do everything they could for her in 2006.

Quietly, many republicans are hoping Harris will stay where she is, but publicly, the GOP says democrats may end up feeling sorry for themselves.

"I think everyone who says I want a particular candidate turns out to be usually something that bites them," said Geoffrey Becker, FL Republican Party Executive Director.

Harris has repeatedly said she will get into the race only if the White House gives her a nod, and which way that nod goes should be known by the end of the week.


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