TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)–U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, who was criticized in August for comments she made to the Florida Baptist state newspaper, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Florida Sept. 5.
Harris, trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, received 49.4 percent of the vote over three other GOP candidates. William McBride finished with 30 percent, LeRoy Collins Jr. 15.3 percent and Peter Monroe 5.3 percent.
Nelson, who will face Harris in the November general election, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
“Tonight, I say to Bill Nelson, ‘Come home, Bill,'” Harris said following her victory, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “‘We all know you’re a liberal who’s not passed any meaningful legislation in six years.’”
In a published story in August she told the Florida Baptist Witness that the separation of church and state is “a lie” and that Baptists must work to elect more Christians in order to battle immorality.
“[I]f you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin,” she told the newspaper. “They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage.”
Harris also bemoaned the notion that Christians have come to believe they should “avoid politics.”
“[T]hat is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers,” she said. “And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women and if people aren’t involved in helping godly men in getting elected then we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our Founding Fathers intended and that’s certainly isn’t what God intended.”
Harris’ comments were picked up by the Associated Press and reported in media outlets nationwide, including The Washington Post, CNN.com and FoxNews.com. Two of her primary opponents criticized her, as did U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D.-Fla., who told The Sentinel she was “disgusted” by the remarks.
In the interview Harris also gave some insights into her personal faith. She said she attends Calvary Chapel in Sarasota, Fla., and has a “strong heritage” spiritually — her grandfather was a missionary to Africa and her aunt and uncle head up a Christian ministry. Her brother-in-law is Christian singer Wes King. In addition, she said she studied at L’Abris under Francis Schaeffer.
Asked what she would say if God were to ask, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” Harris said, “Because I loved Your Son and because I know He died for my sins. I know He was resurrected at Your right hand and I served Him.”
Nelson has held a wide lead over Harris in polls.