Correction to This Article
In one edition, a March 12 item on Rep. Katherine Harris's candidacy for the Senate misstated the first name of her competitor. He is Sen. Bill Nelson. The item also misstated the results of a Quinnipiac University poll last month. Harris trailed Nelson, with 31 percent to his 53 percent.

Lap of Luxury in Tennessee

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Sunday, March 12, 2006

Two new partisan Web sites attack a senator and a representative from Tennessee for their money-spending habits.

Late last week, the folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched http://www.fancyford.com/ , which slaps at Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democrat running for the Senate, for what it claims is his luxurious lifestyle.

With pictures of lobsters and a plush hotel room, the site's front page says Ford "likes to live the good life . . . perhaps a little too much. Lavish hotel stays. Fine dining. Couture suits. Parties with Playboy Playmates . . . all on his campaign contributors' dime."

Said NRSC spokesman Dan Ronayne: "Fancy Ford simply does not represent the values of ordinary Tennesseans."

The site lists such expenses as $8,900 in luxury gifts for reception hosts in 2005, $32,000 for stops at five-star hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Nantucket and Florida, and $2,549 for an Armani suit.

Phil Singer, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had his own explanation for the site: "The fact that they're engaging in such a harsh smear this far out suggests they are more worried about Ford and think he's got a pretty good shot at the Senate seat."

Apparently not to be outdone, the DSCC launched its own site -- designed just like the Ford one -- looking at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's tendency to spend.

The DSCC's Web site, http://www.veryfancyfrist.com/ , notes that the senator's Volunteer Political Action Committee spent $1,700 at the Four Seasons in Miami and $857 at a posh D.C. steakhouse. It also says Frist, who is retiring this year and mulling a 2008 presidential run, has spent $69,030 to fly on corporate jets -- some belonging to drug companies.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," Singer said, explaining why he set up the counter-site.

Noted Ronayne: "My first reaction is they should get a better sense of humor."

Harris Sticks to Senate Hopes

Controversy has dogged Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) since, as Florida secretary of state, she certified the results in Florida that gave George W. Bush a victory in the 2000 presidential election. It continues through her current campaign for the Senate.

Despite pressure to drop out of the race, she said this past week that she's sticking with it.

"We've had some negative hits, but we've had an overwhelming response from grass-roots leadership around the state that are saying, 'Go for it,' " Harris told the Associated Press. "And that's what we're doing."

Harris's ties to a defense contractor have come under scrutiny from prosecutors who say the company funneled money to her 2004 House campaign.

There has been speculation in recent days that Thomas Rooney, who would have a big war chest as an heir to the Pittsburgh Steelers football franchise, might challenge Harris for the nomination.

A poll last month by Quinnipiac University showed Harris trailing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, with 31 percent to his 53 percent.

Democrats Plan Early for '08

The 2008 presidential election is still far off, but party planners are already thinking about where to host the nominating conventions.

The Democratic National Committee recently announced its presidential convention will be held Aug. 25 -28, 2008. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on Aug. 29, so it might not be surprising that there's already chatter about whether New Orleans will be the Democrats' choice when the DNC announces the host city this fall. In a poll of 4,000 people by the left-leaning blog Daily Kos, 28 percent voted for New Orleans, while 31 percent selected Denver as their top choice.

The choice of the date -- and the announcement so far in advance -- is also tactically important. Democrats want to avoid what happened in 2004, when Republicans took a date in late August, forcing the Democrats to hold their nominating convention in late July to avoid competing with the Summer Olympics. As a result, presidential nominee John F. Kerry had to give his address a month earlier than President Bush and withstand an additional month of GOP attacks.

The DNC announced that 11 cities had expressed interest in playing host to the convention -- a number that was "unprecedented," DNC Chairman Howard Dean said.

Besides New Orleans and Denver, cities in the running include Anaheim, Calif., Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio and New York, the site of the 2004 Republican convention.

On the Republican side, things are moving more slowly.

The Republican National Committee has asked 31 cities, including New Orleans, whether they are interested. Chicago and Indianapolis already have said they are not, but otherwise the field is wide open. A decision is expected by Feb. 1, 2007.

No date has been set, but the incumbent party's convention usually is held second.


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