Pushing the envelope

I'd have sworn there was nothing Katherine Harris could do to make me yearn to see her head on a spike more than I already do. But life keeps throwing me curve balls:

As Katherine Harris' rocky Senate campaign takes an increasingly evangelical Christian bent, her remaining top campaign staffers are preparing to jump ship.

Colleagues say Harris' closest confidante lately appears to be spiritual adviser Dale Burroughs, founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute in Bradenton.

"Dr. Dale," as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.

Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."

"It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her," said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. "She's grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on."

Her top campaign advisers, having failed to persuade Harris to drop her struggling campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, are preparing to leave. Those include Ed Rollins, a highly regarded GOP strategist and her top campaign adviser; Adam Goodman, her longtime Tampa-based media consultant; and campaign manager Jamie Miller. Harris has been aggressively campaigning for support among religious conservatives, hitting large churches and headlining a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in Broward County last weekend. She told hundreds of attendees she was "doing God's work" with her campaign.

All that from my former hometown newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times.

Just when you think someone has hit rock bottom, they manage to find a way to surprise you.

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