Meet the woman taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Amanda Carey | Contributor

Karen Harrington’s done this before, but this time, she’s hoping for a different result.

The South Floridian was the Republican challenger in 2010 to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Harrington scored 40 percent of the vote in the midterm elections, and just a little over four months later, she declared her intent to challenge Wasserman Schultz for a second time. This time around, Harrington is trying to launch a statewide movement to oust who many consider a rising star in the Democrat Party.

But in a conference call with reporters earlier this week, Harrington sounded optimistic. And her campaign, she said, will highlight two of the two biggest differences between Wasserman Schultz and her: jobs and likability.

“We forced her to spend almost a million dollars,” said Harrington, referring to the 2010 race. And most of it, she added, was money from political action committees.

“The thing that Debbie lacks,” continued Harrington, “is support of the community here … She’s going to try to raise a lot of money, but it’s not going to come from the constituents. It never has.”

Harrington, who happens to be a three-time cancer survivor, also touts her small business-owner credentials, having owned and operated a local restaurant in South Florida for almost 30 years. “Since the restaurant’s founding, Karen and her sister have expanded the business into three locations,” explains Harrington’s campaign website.

If elected, Harrington, who has set up shop at, will surely join the ranks aligned with current tea party freshmen like Rep. Allen West, with whom she has a “very good relationship,” according to one source.

She considers Obamacare to be “one of the worst pieces of legislation to ever be passed by our government,” and would have voted “no” on the recent debt-limit bill.

“I was very proud of the Republican Party this year and the steps that they made,” said Harrington. “But considering that they gave us this bill at the last minute … it would not have been a bill that I would have been able to support.”

Moreover, Harrington would have opposed significant defense spending cuts, like those in the debt deal. Instead, “I would rather see them find that waste, then reinvest it.”

She also supports the budget proposal put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan — Medicare cuts and all.

With its senior citizen population, Florida is a tough state to campaign on major entitlement reforms that would change Social Security or Medicare. When pressed by The Daily Caller on entitlements, Harrington attacked the political pressures that make such reform nearly impossible.

“We’re going to have to work hard to not be afraid how we address entitlements based on our ability to get re-elected,” she said, adding that politicians have to be willing to attack things like Medicare and “reform it to make it solvent.”

Still, as one Florida Republican source acknowledged to TheDC, “it’s a tough seat.”

The district leans heavily Democrat, and in 2004, Wasserman Schultz won the election with 70 percent of the vote. In 2006 she ran unopposed, and easily won in 2008 and 2010.


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