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Area Democrats have turned "Anybody but Katherine" into a rallying cry in their campaign to win Rep. Dan Miller's congressional seat.
But her four Democratic opponents know they need to establish an identity with an electorate intimately familiar with front-runner Republican Katherine Harris: "Anybody" won't do; they have to become "Somebody."
While Harris grabs the national spotlight, sometimes without even trying, the Democrats have had to scratch for publicity -- and for money.
Harris ranks among the top congressional campaign fund-raisers in the nation. Democratic donors, and the state and national party, are waiting until a front-runner emerges before committing substantial money to the race.
Any Republican has a built-in advantage running in District 13. Mapped by a friendly Republican Florida Legislature, the district encompasses 640,000 people, most of them in Manatee, Sarasota and western Charlotte counties, with the rest in DeSoto and Hardee. Republicans outnumber Democrats 49 percent to 33 percent.
Nevertheless -- and despite being political novices with similar positions on many issues -- Democrats Patrick Feheley, Candice Brown McElyea, Charles McKenzie and Jan Schneider insist they can win.
One reason for the optimism: In the 2000 presidential election, the Democratic ticket pulled 44 percent of the district vote, with the Green Party's Ralph Nader getting another 2.4 percent.
"That's a winnable margin," Schneider said. "You can make the point that people who voted for Gore-Lieberman aren't going to be warmly disposed toward Katherine Harris."
Most political observers are doubtful.
"You learn never to say never in politics," said University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus of Harris. "But I'd say right now, it's hers to lose by a long shot."
But the Democratic candidates themselves argue that Harris is vulnerable, that the …