JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Randall Terry (search), who founded the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and helped lead the effort to reinsert Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube, announced Wednesday he is running for the state Senate, setting the stage for a GOP primary in which Schiavo could be the central issue.
Terry will face state Sen. Jim King (search), one of nine Republicans who sided with the Democrats to block a bill aimed at keeping Schiavo alive. The primary will be in 2006.
Terry said King no longer represents the Republican base.
"The Terri Schiavo matter was unforgivable to many of the Republican loyalists," said Terry, 46. He also said King's appointment of Democrats to key positions in the Senate and his call for higher caps on medical-malpractice verdicts alienated voters.
In a telephone interview, King countered: "I've been a real Republican all my adult life. I was not a convert. I'm a fiscal conservative and moderate on social issues. My success and voting record would indicate I'm pretty much where much of Florida is."
King has served in the Legislature since 1986 and was Senate president in 2003 and 2004. The district stretches from Jacksonville to northern Volusia County.
Terry, who has lived in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach for two years, lost a 1998 primary bid for Congress in New York. Terry has said he has been arrested 40 times for his anti-abortion protests.
He again came to the forefront during the fight to keep Schiavo alive. She died March 31 after her feeding was removed in a bitter dispute between her husband and her parents. Terry was a spokesman for her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler (search).
King said he drafted Terri's Law (search), which was approved by the Legislature in 2003 and led to the reinsertion of feeding tube only to later be tossed by the courts.
But in helping another bill to keep her alive in March, King said: "To be kept alive artificially above and beyond your wishes and the wishes you expressed to your family — that is cruel and unusual punishment."
He once called his 2003 vote to reinsert the tube "probably one of the worst votes that I've ever done."