The suicide mission, or Katherine Harris runs for the U.S. Senate

She loses another round of campaign staffers, and the Miami Herald reports that she tried to smear Joe Scarborough right out of the race.

Published July 14, 2006 4:03PM (EDT)

Katherine Harris has just lost her third campaign manager and an additional round of staffers, and the reverberations this time around are the ugliest yet for a Senate run that wasn't too pretty to begin with.

Glenn Hodas tells the Miami Herald that he stepped down as Harris' campaign manager because he no longer has the "energy" to deal with her "tantrums," her "micromanaging to the Nth degree" and her refusal to take advice from her campaign staff.

That's bad, but it's pretty much exactly what we'd heard already from others who have jumped the Harris ship. What's new: the Herald's report that in the early days of her campaign, Harris fended off a possible challenge by former Florida Rep. and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough by telling potential donors that if Scarborough ran, he'd face questions about Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old aide who was found dead in his office in 2001. Former campaign manager Jim Dornan tells the Herald that he heard Harris tell more than one potential donor: "I don't know what he's thinking when he's got this whole issue of a dead intern on his hands."

Dornan says the Scarborough story "encapsulates everything wrong" with Harris as a candidate. "She reacted without thinking. She made stuff up. She called people she had no business calling. And when confronted with the insanity of her -- I use this term lightly -- 'strategy,' she denied it and tried to blame someone else.''

Of course, this is the same Jim Dornan who called Harris a "great candidate" when he left her campaign last November. Why the change? It could have something to do with the fact that Harris' campaign has become something more like a suicide mission. A recent poll had Harris trailing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by a margin of 59 to 26 percent, and the latest round of bad news isn't going to help matters much. As Ed Rollins, another GOP veteran who has come and gone from the Harris campaign, tells the Associated Press: "There's no good ending here."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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