Chicago Sun-Times
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State GOP chief's Katherine Harris joke bombs

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Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris signs the Florida presidential election certification during a ceremony at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2000. AP file

CLEARWATER, FL -- Katherine Harris has a special place in Republican history.

She's the former Florida secretary of state who sealed the 2000 presidential election for former Republican President George W. Bush by certifying his disputed 537-vote win in the Florida primary over Democrat Al Gore.

But when Illinois Republican Party chief Pat Brady referred to Harris Monday during the state delegation's opening convention breakfast, she wasn't the object of his adoration.

Brady, known for his witty and self-deprecating one-liners, made her a punch line to a joke that didn't seem to go over well with Illinois' GOP faithful.

But first, the context.

The mayor of Clearwater, the Florida city where Illinois' GOP delegates are housed, made some brief comments to the delegation, welcoming them to his city.

Brady introduced Mayor George Cretekos, alluding to his Greek heritage, by questioning whether he ever owned a restaurant on Halsted - Greektown's main artery in Chicago - and whether it ever burned down.

After Cretekos left the podium, Brady brought up Harris, who comes from nearby Sarasota.

"Katherine Harris learned how to count votes in Cook County. She did a fine job" Brady said, drawing a few groans from the crowd before saying, "Just kidding."

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