By now we’ve all heard the popular #FireDebbie meme, and conservatives and Libertarians alike long for the day when Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) no longer sits before us as a spokesperson for the Obama administration…but what do you know about the woman who just might make that happen?
Karen Harrington, businesswoman with a 30-year record of private industry success, is overcoming the DNC machine with her own innovative messaging and is now within striking distance of the Democratic darling. She is getting tremendous support nationwide (including through social media), is raking in the campaign cash, and is very likely to unseat Wasserman Schultz in this year’s election.
The most recent polling data, taken in early October, shows Harrington trailing by just 4.5% (MOE is 5%). This upward trend is happening throughout the GOP, with Connie Mack IV (also running to unseat Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in FL), Romney-Ryan, and even Todd Akin (R-MO) beginning to see a shift in the tides. Harrington is faring well among Independents, as well (35%), which will work to her advantage since the combination of Republicans and Independents in the district outnumbers Democrats. The most promising piece of data to be extracted from this poll is that 16.1% of voters are still undecided.
Harrington’s first foray into politics was to run against Wasserman Shultz in 2010, but she was defeated by a double digit margin. A few short months ago, with Wasserman Schultz owning a seemingly insurmountable lead, it appeared she might be headed for a similar upset this year. But after a tremendous amount of hard work – and some major public missteps by her opponent – the campaign has begun to see the fruits of its labor.
Much like Mitt Romney, Karen, who identifies as a “conservative by nature,” cites her business acumen as her primary qualification for Congress. She believes that her years in the private sector have made her “fiscally responsible,” one who understands that “you have to rely on yourself to be successful.” Her ideology is as far removed from the “You didn’t build that” mantra as one could imagine.
She says there are three primary issues on which she clearly delineates herself from her opponent:
“1) [Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz] definitely supports bigger government. She supported the failed stimulus plan and has stood by that position. She has tried to convince us that it has saved us from falling off that cliff, which we’re all barely hanging on to.
2) [Wasserman Schultz] believes government-run healthcare will help all Americans have good healthcare. I’m opposed to that for all kinds of reasons: it takes away our choice, our access to good healthcare, and it is not affordable. As a business owner, it adds an enormous tax burden onto all of us. Ultimately, I believe [the Democrats'] goal is to destroy private insurance as a whole and force everyone into a single-payer system.
3) [Wasserman Schultz] believes we should punish success and raise taxes on higher income levels; I want to keep taxes at a flat level for all Americans and get this economy going. She believes jobs will be created through more government interference, and I believe it’s in the hands of the private sector.”
Beyond these issues, Harrington supports the standard GOP platform. She also supports school choice (a state-run vouchers program) in Florida, arguing that “if the public school system continues to fail our children, parents have a right to make another choice.” She advocates for a major overhaul of the 60,000-page tax code. Though she seems to favor the Flat Tax conceptually, she believes that real reform is a must for our economy, so she doesn’t rule out other options, even the FairTax. She explains, “Here we are in October and we still don’t know what our taxes will look like in January, and they expect us to grow our economy, to invest, to expand? There’s so much uncertainty. Nothing should be off the table.”
On the significance of being the “anti-candidate,” Karen acknowledges a great deal of the support she’s experienced comes from citizens who have been willing to speak with her primarily because of whom she’s running against.
“It was absolutely pivotal when we started over seventeen months ago,” she explained, “to build this campaign and make it a national race. Twitter and Facebook were tremendously important in engaging voters, even outside of the district.” While this certainly might have been what caught the attention of Americans to begin with, Candidate Karen Harrington has come into her own. She is a confident, personable, nonsensical woman who articulates her vision for America clearly.
She has been endorsed many sitting Congressmen and women, including former Presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, and by several key players late in the game, including former Governor Jeb Bush and popular Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
She doubled Wasserman Schultz’s fundraising in the last FEC reporting period ($712K to $369K) and is hoping this trend will continue in the final weeks; the goal is to pull in those last undecided voters, as well as motivate existing Republican supporters to come out and help her unseat Wasserman Schultz.
Harrington summarized her thoughts on why she’s running for office this way: “I’m just very excited for my country. I think it’s been a long four years for all of us as Americans, so much uncertainty, and it would be an honor to serve the will of the people of my district.”
There are many ways supporters can help make this happen: Follow her on Twitter @Karen4Congress or using the hashtag #FireDebbie; check out the Obama-Wasserman Schultz debt clock at firedebbie.com; and Like her Facebook page. Learn more about her at karenforcongress.com, and of course, political messaging costs money, so she invites donations of any size to help her bring home the win in South Florida’s 23rd Congressional disctrict.