Thursday, May 26, 2005

Showdown in Florida: GOP Theocrat vs. Moderate

One of America's most militant antiabortion activists plans to launch a primary challenge against a longtime moderate Republican leader of the Florida State Senate. Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, and "spokesman" for the parents of Terri Schiavo was publicly asked by two locally prominent Republicans to challenge incumbent Jim King in the GOP primary. The announcement came in a series of press conferences in Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. Terry says he will run if he can raise $15,000 in the next three weeks. But given the high profile announcement, it seems likely he will run no matter what happens.

The Associated Press reports that "King is one of the nine Republicans who helped block a bill in the last legislative session aimed at keeping Schiavo alive.... King, who has served in the Legislature since 1986 and was Senate president in 2003 and 2004, did not return phone calls Thursday for comment. He has said he would run for another four-year term in 2006, his last chance before term limits would block another run."

Terry who has a knack for news, is a Christian nationalist and a theocrat and one of the most polarizing men in American politics. Jim King epitomizes the moderate, business wing of the Republican Party. He has been a top leader in both the Florida House and Senate. The race will likely be one of the highest visibility races in the nation, and will throw into sharp relief the difference between the theocratic Christian Right and and mainstream Republicanism. Among other things, King is pro-choice, was a leader in promoting death with dignity legislation in Florida, and is a supporter of public education.

There is much I could write about Randall Terry, (and I did in my book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy) but as the campaign begins, it is worth noting that in the 1990s, Terry was a national leader in The Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party) and in a 1994 op-ed in The Washington Post, went so far as to denounce Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition as "the mistress of the Republican Party." Now that Terry is a wannabe Republican office holder, it will be interesting to hear how he explains that one.

[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]


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