- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2000

The gang that never had a problem shooting straight when aiming at a political opponent has now targeted in its crosshairs Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. One of the duties of Mrs. Harris' office is to oversee Florida's elections and apply the appropriate statutes. As soon as Mrs. Harris let it be known that she understood the meaning of Section 102.111 "If a county's returns are not received by the Department of State by 5 p.m. on the seventh day following an election, all missing counties shall be ignored, and the results shown by the returns on file shall be certified" the Gore campaign revved up its attack machine.

Formerly esteemed Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Mrs. Harris' straightforward application of Florida law "look[ed] like a move in the direction of partisan politics and away from the nonpartisan administration of the election laws." Other Gore campaign officials were even less diplomatic. Gore spokesman Mark Fabiani, who earned his stripes concocting the ludicrous conspiracy theory about a "media food chain" designed to smear the Clintons, called Mrs. Harris' decision a "naked political act." Chris Lehane, another Gore flak, accused Mrs. Harris of "acting in the finest tradition of a Soviet commissar."

When Mrs. Harris properly directed officials in the four overwhelmingly Democratic counties that were participating in the manual recounts to make their cases for such recounts in letters to her by 2 p.m. yesterday, Gore campaign chairman William Daley essentially accused her of being a bully. Mr. Daley, of course, is the son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard "Boss" Daley, who was indispensable in John F. Kennedy's theft of the 1960 presidential election. The younger Daley, hilariously claimed that Mrs. Harris' instructions amounted to imposing "stress and strain" on county officials, who, if Mr. Christopher is to be believed, were otherwise busily engaged in "the nonpartisan administration of election laws."

Yes, Mrs. Harris is a Republican. Yes, she enthusiastically supported George W. Bush for president although, it's worth noting, her opponent in the 1998 Republican primary was the candidate endorsed by Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, who was seeking Florida's governorship. So what? What state official involved in this political circus is not a member of one party or another? Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who has clashed with Mrs. Harris, is the recently resigned state chairman of the Gore campaign. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, who ordered Mrs. Harris to use "discretion" in determining the ultimate disposition of manually recounted votes, was appointed by a Democratic governor. The vast majority of the four counties' election-board officials making the decisions whether to pursue the highly questionable countywide manual recounts are Democrats. All seven of Florida's Supreme Court justices, who will surely rule in at least several of the lawsuits working their way through state courts, were appointed by Democratic governors. None of this, of course, matters to the masters of the politics of personal destruction who have targeted Mrs. Harris. Here's betting the relatively diminutive Mrs. Harris will not be bullied by the likes of William Daley.

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