Onward, Christian Soldiers

The St. Petersburg Times had an interesting article about the campaign of Katherine Harris over the weekend:

As Katherine Harris’ rocky Senate campaign takes an increasingly evangelical Christian bent, her remaining top campaign staffers are preparing to jump ship.

Colleagues say Harris’ closest confidante lately appears to be spiritual adviser Dale Burroughs, founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute in Bradenton.

“Dr. Dale,” as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.

Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a “Christian crusade.”

“It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her,” said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. “She’s grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on.”

Her top campaign advisers, having failed to persuade Harris to drop her struggling campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, are preparing to leave. Those include Ed Rollins, a highly regarded GOP strategist and her top campaign adviser; Adam Goodman, her longtime Tampa-based media consultant; and campaign manager Jamie Miller. Harris has been aggressively campaigning for support among religious conservatives, hitting large churches and headlining a “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference in Broward County last weekend. She told hundreds of attendees she was “doing God’s work” with her campaign.

Harris also hinted at her increased emphasis on her Christian faith when she talked to ABC’s Nightline last week about spending $10-million of her own money to jump-start her Senate campaign.

“I am willing to take this widow’s mite, this pearl of great price, and put everything on the line. No matter how much you have, are you willing to take what you have and sell it all for a great price,” Harris said in the transcript provided by ABC News.

The widow’s mite refers to a New Testament parable about a poor woman giving what little money she had to the temple.

Burroughs, a former staffer with Campus Crusade for Christ, said that in the last month Harris has been deeply moved by the Bill Bright book The Joy of Supernatural Thinking – Believing in God for the Impossible. The book explains that “it’s not you trying to do something but God working through you. … What we all see as impossible, God sees as possible,” Burroughs said.

It’s not enough that she has just about every reliable Republican in the state running away from her as quickly as they can without making it look like a stampede, but it’s also sending a very strange message to voters who are not evangelical — say, for example, Roman Catholic or Jewish — and right there you’re talking about a lot of people in South Florida. It’s also pretty clear from history that when candidates for a national office such as senator start lining up with that crowd that they don’t tend to get very far: remember how far Pat Robertson got in 1988?

While anything is possible in the next seven months and I wouldn’t advise the Nelson campaign to rest easy, they can at least not worry about putting up any negative ads about Katherine Harris. She seems to have that taken care of all by herself.

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One thought on “Onward, Christian Soldiers

  1. “…behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster.”

    From what I’ve read the past two or three days, it seems as though Ms. Harris needs special guidance in all of the above. With her campaign falling apart at the seams, it just seems fitting.