Operation Baghdad

A Senate hopeful on the lam is busy tracking Saddam

The dogs helped him in his search for Saddam.

"In my claim to the government, I actually pinpointed the neighborhood where Saddam is," he says, "but I can't tell you where that is now, because that is in the claim."

Of course, he hasn't really found Hussein (and he had no idea that the dictator's now-dead sons were in Mosul). But that's classic Martin. I asked Cheryl Wells, his long-time friend and companion, if she thought he was really delusional. "I think anyone who runs for office has that personality defect in general," said Wells, who lives in an upscale beach condo in Fort Lauderdale that Martin calls his "temporary headquarters."

Martin searches a bomb crater in the Mansur neighborhood of western Baghdad for the displaced despot
Andy Martin
Martin searches a bomb crater in the Mansur neighborhood of western Baghdad for the displaced despot

"I don't think he's any stranger than the other people running for office. I think you have to be somewhat delusional to run."

Good point. Look at two of the more high-profile politicians running for the same Senate seat, Republican Mark Foley and Democrat Peter Deutsch. Foley is a closeted gay man in the party of Rick Santorum who has been appealing to the Christian Right -- the same people who believe people like him should be imprisoned or executed -- across the state.

As for Deutsch, he's an ultra-Zionist who is just as one-sided for Israel as Martin is for the Arabs. Deutsch, a big backer of the Iraq War, has trotted about the political landscape with a suicide bomber's vest, a piece of propaganda meant to rile up animosity toward Palestinians.

In their company, Martin would seem right at home. And if the stars are in some bizarre alignment, he could actually make a decent run of it. In the 1998 Senate race against current Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, he won Miami-Dade County and received a third of the statewide vote. Some 184,621 Floridians punched the ballot for the fugitive.

But don't expect to see much of him on the campaign trail -- and not just because the law is after him but because he's still after Hussein. Our man is planning to head back to Baghdad in September.

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