Florida Senate Race Filled With Abortion Overtones

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Senate Race Filled With Abortion Overtones

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 15, 2003

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The race to replace pro-abortion Senator Bob Graham in Florida took on several intriguing turns last week and is increasingly filled with abortion overtones.

The Republican primary is becoming more of a cocktail party as additional candidates enter the race.

Last week, Mel Martinez, President Bush’s pro-life HUD Secretary threw his hat in the ring. He joins pro-life former Congressman Bill McCollum, pro-life House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, instrumental in passing Terri’s Law, pro-life state Sen. Daniel Webster, and conservative lawyer Larry Klayman.

Martinez has his own ties to the Terri Schiavo case. He ran in 1994 as the running mate to pro-life attorney Ken Conner. Conner, the former president of Florida Right to Life and the Family Research Council, is Governor Jeb Bush’s lead attorney in defending Terri’s Law.

Yet, a recent poll of Republican voters had none of them in the lead. Instead, pro-life Rep. Katherine Harris, who has not said whether she would run, has the most support.

The poll showed Harris with the backing of 29 percent of Florida Republicans, McCollum with 16 percent and Martinez with 11 percent. McCollum was strongest among men and older voters. But 38 percent of Republicans were undecided, a sign that the race is wide open.

Meanwhile, abortion advocates are coming to the aid of one Democratic candidate in an attempt to boost her Senate bid.

Former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor has the early lead in the Democratic primary and is also receiving money from the pro-abortion political group Emily’s List.

The group claims nearly 73,000 members. And during the 2002 election cycle, it contributed $9 million to candidates in more than 101,000 individual contributions.

Martha McKenna, a representative of the group, told the Florida Ledger that support from Emily’s List should result in a "significant contribution" to Castor. "She will have the capacity to raise the money she needs to communicate [with voters]," McKenna said.

The group endorses only female candidates and, in addition to supporting abortion, they must oppose a ban on partial-birth abortions and support taxpayer funding of abortion.

Castor is one of only three Senate candidates the pro-abortion group has endorsed so far this election cycle. She faces Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who leads the Democratic money race, and pro-abortion Rep. Peter Deutsch.

On the Republican side, McCollum leads the money race and Byrd is right behind him.