Florida's Senate GOP primary race.

Florida's Senate GOP primary race.

Florida's Senate GOP primary race.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Feb. 25 2004 7:52 PM

Florida Is More Fun

Its Senate GOP nomination race is a much better show than Kerry-Edwards.

As the presidential nomination contest becomes steadily less interesting, with both remaining Democrats increasingly difficult to distinguish from one another, political junkies might consider turning their attention to Florida. Not the March 9 "presidential preference" vote—by then, the Kerry-Edwards smackdown could well be over—but the Aug. 31 Senate primary, which, on the Republican side, features an ensemble of Washington refugees worthy of Robert Altman.

The star would have to be Larry "Sue Your Mom" Klayman, the polymorphously litigious founder and former chairman of Judicial Watch who unashamedly inveighs against the evils of excessive litigation. The Washington Post's Al Kamen reported earlier this week that Klayman, co-author of Fatal Neglect: The U.S. Government's Continuing Failure to Protect American Citizens From Terrorists, was last fall cuffed and taken in for questioning at Reagan National for saying the word, "bomb" while going through airport screening. (Klayman confirmed to the Post that he'd told the screener his cat carrier didn't contain a bomb; he declined to confirm the cuffs and the questioning, which Kamen attributed to a nearby waiting passenger. Chatterbox's call to Klayman's press secretary went unreturned.)

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But the supporting cast is excellent, too. You've got Mel "Mr. Cellophane" Martinez, President Bush's see-through former housing secretary. You've got Bill "Five Days? But I'm Mad Now" McCollum, who while serving in the House of Representatives was the National Rifle Association's go-to guy on the House Judiciary Committee. You've got Bob "Elephant Man" Smith, former New Hampshire senator, who once gave a speech on the Senate floor protesting a planned visit to the U.S. Capitol grounds by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus because "How do you stop an elephant if it goes berserk in the Capitol?" Katherine "Long Count" Harris contemplated getting into the race as well, but eventually decided not to.

There are a few other Republicans running who may also have colorful pasts, but are unknown to this Beltway prisoner. A full candidate list can be accessed here.

Smith, whose Web graphics and URL (www.ussenatorbobsmith.com) create the false impression that he's the incumbent Florida senator—is it possible there's no rule against that?—has urged his fellow Republicans to follow Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." But given the raw material available, Chatterbox believes a Republican truce not to sling mud would be a crime against nature.