Holy Water?

Posted July 8, 2005 at 6:11pm

Inside-the-Beltway Republicans — including top strategists at the White House — might be hoping for a magic potion that would make Rep. Katherine Harris’ (R) Florida Senate bid disappear.

But they might want to be careful: It turns out she’s had some experience with mystical remedies.[IMGCAP(1)]

A July 5 article in the Orlando Sentinel chronicled how Harris, as Florida secretary of state, pushed state researchers to pursue the use of water — possibly mystically blessed — as a means of preventing citrus canker.

Harris began pushing “Celestial Drops” after being introduced to New York Rabbi Abe Hardoon, one of those promoting the canker cure, in 2000.

Harris, the granddaughter of the late Ben Hill Griffin Jr., a one-time state legislator and millionaire citrus mogul, acted as an intermediary between state agriculture officials and Hardoon, who told Harris that he was working with Israeli scientists.

“I met with those [Israeli] scientists,” Harris told the newspaper. “They were confident they had a cure for canker.”

In the end, researchers found that the remedy was nothing more than a “hoax,” according to Wayne Dixon, the state’s head of entomology, nematology and plant pathology.

For her part, Harris was surprised to learn that the substance she’d once hoped to be a cure for canker might be nothing more than blessed water.

After being contacted by the newspaper, Harris called Hardoon, who blamed the drops’ poor test results on state scientists.

“He said they didn’t follow the proper protocols,” Harris told the Sentinel.

Harris is, after all, a stickler for protocol.

Summer Reading. Tired of slogging through the same old newspapers and blogs every day? Need a lift to make it through the final three weeks before August recess? Sen. Rick Santorum is happy to help.

The Pennsylvania Republican’s new book “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” is being heavily “reviewed” on Amazon.com’s Web site — mostly by folks who take significant umbrage at the conclusions Santorum draws.

The book only hit stores July 4, but as of press time had already generated dozens of reviews.

While HOH would love to list each and every one (even those deliciously misspelled missives) we sample only a few here for your reading pleasure.

“Wow! As a feminist mom of two now-grown kids and grandma of two, I never realized I was anti-family,” writes one reviewer. “The other horrid thing is Santorum can’t write his way out of a paper bag. There oughta be a law that politicians have to show some competence in writing, and that ghost writers aren’t allowed.”

Ouch.

“After reading Senator Santorum’s book, I have made financial contributions to every women’s organization I could think of and am a newly-born feminist,” wrote another critic. “Thank you, Senator Santorum. By sharing your views with the world. It has just gotten that much easier to unseat you in 2006.”

Zing!

Not all the news was bad for Santorum.

One woman from West Chester, Pa. (a potential voter no less), calls the arguments Santorum makes “very attractive.”

“Santorum will alienate the knee-jerk conservative as much as he will infuriate the ‘johnny one-note’ liberal,” she added.

The book sat at 742 on Amazon’s list of best-sellers late Friday.

Is It Live … ? Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who is openly campaigning for the seat of gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), has a blog, which in itself is not news.

But Pallone has apparently found a way to blog when he’s not even near a computer, a nice twist on the grueling blogging experience.

On June 30, a Tuesday night, Pallone had just begun a Q-and-A session on “Frank’s Blog” when a vote was called on the House floor. Did that stop Pallone from answering questions for the many fans of his blog? Not for a moment.

But there was no ghost-writer involved, aides insist. Pallone was on a cellphone and answered questions for more than two hours, just ad-libbing comments on the fly to an aide, who then typed them into a computer, according to Matt Montekio, campaign manager for “Pallone for Jersey,” the Democratic lawmaker’s nascent Senate campaign. “He just relayed the answers through a cellphone.”

Pallone easily handled queries on Social Security, Iraq, CAFTA, Valerie Plame, trade with China and Supreme Court nominations during the two-hour and 18-minute session.

But some Democrats weren’t so impressed, with some wags figuring that Pallone himself wasn’t the one answering the questions.

“I can understand why they weren’t worried about getting caught,” said one Democratic aide. “Once you’ve started an official campaign begging for an appointment for a seat that’s not even open, I guess there’s no point worrying about further embarrassment.”

This Old House. In the months following his defeat, former Texas Rep. Nick Lampson (D) was looking for a buyer for his condo on the Hill.

He didn’t have to look far. Lampson sold his property to Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) in December — months before the former Texas Member decided to seek a return to Washington by challenging House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Although not the official real estate agent, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee flack Adrienne Elrod brokered the deal, according to informed sources. She worked for Ross before managing Lampson’s 2004 campaign against now-Rep. Ted Poe (R). Elrod joined the DCCC a few months ago.

The transaction was completed on Dec. 15; the sale price for the one bedroom, one bathroom 581-square-foot condo was $272,000.

It represented a tidy profit for Lampson, who had purchased the space on July 31, 2000, for just $105,000.

Lampson now lives in Stafford, Texas, as he readies a bid against DeLay. Lampson grew up in the town although he resided in Beaumont during his four terms in the House.

“He moved back home,” explained Mike Malaise, a spokesman for Lampson.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.