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Florida Primary Preview

Given Florida's size and the number of competitive races up and down the ballot, it's a good thing that no other states hold primaries Tuesday.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are holding primaries to choose nominees who will battle to succeed Gov. Jeb Bush; Rep. Katherine Harris is attempting to become the official Republican nominee for Senate after one of the most tumultuous primary campaigns in recent memory; and there are at least three competitive House primaries.

As always we seek to bring you the information you need to know about the most important races. First, the basics: Sunshine State polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and you can track results at the Division of Elections Web site.

Now for a bit more on the key contests.

Republican Gubernatorial Primary: What once looked like a extremely competitive race between state Attorney General Charlie Crist and state chief financial officer Tom Gallagher has disappointed. Crist has run the far more competent campaign -- a task made easier by tawdry admissions regarding Gallagher's personal life that received major play in the local media and damaged his ability to appeal to social conservatives. Gallagher's campaign has gone negative of late but polling shows it has made little difference. Crist will enter the general election as the favorite.

Democratic Gubernatorial Primary: Rep. Jim Davis has led state Sen. Rod Smith throughout the race but massive spending by the sugar industry on Smith's behalf has made this a close contest in the final days. Two Smith-affiliated 527 groups, funded by the sugar industry, have dumped millions of dollars into the race -- using the cash to bash Davis for a vote he took in the state legislature against compensating two African-American men who were wrongly convicted. Davis still seems like the likely winner but the spending by soft money groups affiliated with Smith should not be underestimated.

U.S. Senate Republican Primary: Katherine Harris should win her party's nomination Tuesday night -- virtually ensuring Sen. Bill Nelson (D) a second term. Despite Harris's many (and well-documented) problems, beating her in a Republican primary has always been a challenge due to a solid base of supporters -- born of her role in the 2000 presidential election -- that will never leave her side. A-list candidates like former House Speaker Alan Bense recognized that difficulty and passed on the contest. Polling shows Harris comfortably ahead of attorney Will McBride and Leroy Collins, the son of a former Florida governor. Harris has shown a tendency to under perform her polling in past House races so don't be surprised if this race is closer than expected. But, a Harris win is still the most likely outcome.

Fla. District 8 Democratic Primary: Businessman Charlie Stuart faces a tougher than expected primary fight from free-spending attorney Alan Grayson for the right to take on Rep. Ric Keller (R) in the fall. Grayson has pumped better than $600,000 into his campaign coffers -- going from an unknown to top competitor in short order. Stuart, who had raised $590,000 as of Aug. 16, has attacked Grayson as a newcomer to the district who is trying to buy the seat. Regardless of the identity of the Democratic nominee, this is a longshot seat. Although it played host to one of the most competitive and costly elections of the cycle in 2000 (remember Linda Chapin?), Keller had solidified this district -- winning with 65 percent in 2002 and 61 percent in 2004.

Fla. District 11 Democratic Primary: Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, whose mother, Betty Castor, was the party's Senate nominee in Florida in 2004, has been the favorite from the get-go in this solidly Democratic Tampa-area district. Castor is the best known and best financed candidate ($988,000 raised through Aug. 16). Her main rival for the nomination appears to be state Sen. Les Miller. Miller, who is black, is making a strong pitch to African-American voters in the district but has raised roughly half of what Castor has collected.

Fla. District 13 Republican Primary: In the seat left behind by Harris, it's a three-way race between wealthy car dealer Vern Buchanan, banker Tramm Hudson and state Rep. Nancy Detert. Buchanan has put in better than $2 million of his own money into the race -- blowing away the rest of the field. A poll done in early August for Hudson showed him ahead of Buchanan by a 35 percent to 23 percent margin but that was before Hudson committed a major political gaffe, making controversial comments about African-Americans that drew national attention. Detert is the only serious candidate in the race with a proven base, which might be enough in a crowded race.

Fla. District 13 Democratic Primary: In 2004, national Democrats made clear their preference for Christine Jennings, only to watch her lose the Democratic nomination to 2002 nominee Jan Schneider. Two years later, Jennings is again the preferred candidate of national Democrats. She has also raised $872,000 through Aug. 16 compared to Schneider's $197,000 raised. Democrats believe that with the national environment so favorable to their party this is a seat where they can be competitive -- assuming Jennings is the nominee. It's not clear how much of the competitiveness of the district was due to the controversial Harris, however; President Bush carried it by 13 percent in 2004.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 5, 2006; 5:00 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Senate Line: Dems Still Stuck at Five
Next: Florida Primary: Winners and Losers


CHARLES CRIST is an "In The Closet Homosexual."

The fact that he is GAY means nothing.

The fact that he is IN THE CLOSET and represents a party that hates Gays means EVERYTHING.

This kind of hypocrisy is grotesque and cannot be tolerated.

I hope we can all help Charlie "COME OUT" before the election.

Posted by: Beverly S. Hill | September 16, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Agree MikeB, VeriChip has several contracts with various departments -- especially Defense and Homeland Security, for mandatory identity chip implantation. It's truly frightening.

And zathras,here is the cato institute link again. It was taken down or fell off or whatever happened here.

Briefing Paper #98:

Posted by: drndl | September 6, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The ties between big corporations, and especially data warehousing and information firms, and this Administration are frightening. Anyone looking at the recent Florida primaries who hasn't noticed the incredible amount of corporate money being spent in a desparate attempt to elect lackies is just plain blind. Carl Hiaasen wrote a hilarious and intersting piece in this weeks Miami Herald about the primaries and candidates in Florida that ought to be read by everyone.

Posted by: MikeB | September 6, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Your blog is broken. Can't post or read comments to the Florida primary results.

Posted by: can't read | September 6, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a "peaceful life," Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a "peace deal" with the Taliban.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm going back to VeriChip--whether I get banned or not. It' important. From an interesting website I found:

'Revelation 13:16-18
And he (Antichrist) causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark (incision) IN their right hand, or IN their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name'

I will try my best to summarize the information on the website concerning VeriChip, and how this chip - or its antitype, may fulfil the prophecy concerning the Mark of the Beast...

What it does...
Applied Digital Solutions in the USA markets the VeriChip, a microchip about the size of a grain of rice, which can be implanted under the skin. It can store 128 characters of information (about a paragraph). Ideally this would be used to store a unique number, which could reference a database on computer containing an individuals medical history, financial assets, personal details, biometric data, etc. This chip could have a wide range of applications, from security clearance and identification, secure financial transactions, retrieving essential data for medical emergencies, and the list goes on.

Also, because the chip's radio emission can be tracked by satellite, it also could be used to locate a person anywhere in the world. GPS circuits are now being manufactured small enough to fit inside wrist watches, and the next generation of implantable chips may also utilize this technology.

Quote: "Applied Digital Solutions, maker of what it calls the VeriChip, says that it soon will have a prototype of a more complex device, one that is able to receive signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and transmit a person's location. One potential market for such a device would be kidnapping targets in foreign countries...'

Posted by: drindl | September 6, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm just asking--are we being edited, censored, chastised -- or is it possible it was a technological glitch -- which seems kind of unlikely, considering it was only certain types of posts.

Anyone out there in WaPo land want to give me an answer? Are there things we're not allowed to discuss here?

Posted by: drindl | September 6, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This is weird... all the comments about Orwell went down the memory hole, didn't they? Anyone notice?

Posted by: louisa | September 6, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Katherine Harris is a heroine to the Republican base in Florida. She is anathema to Democrats and not well-respected among independents. However, Harris simply did not have a credible primary opponent. Will McBride ran some gloriously goofy ads that highlighted Harris' problems and pleaded with Republicans to nominate someone who could win. But he had no political following and would not have fared much better against Nelson. Haris has already run negative ads against Bill Nelson trying to paint him as a liberal. It is not working and she will almost certainly lose. The interesting thing will be to try and gauge the effect that the very popular Crist running for governor has on the very unpopular Harris running for senator - and vice versa. Will Crist drag in extra votes for Harris or will Harris's unpopularity drain votes from Crist. The sugar industry attack has hurt Davis and Crist is heavily favored. He is much better known than Davis and is a very personable politician. Jeb Bush remains very popular in Florida and Crist is more or less his annointed successor. We could see landslide wins for Crist and Nelson. I think the gubenatorial race will be closer but Crist is running well ahead of Davis.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 6, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't this read like something out of third-rate banana republic? But then, I guess that's Florida:

'Katherine Harris cruised to a decisive Republican primary victory Tuesday in the U.S. Senate race despite being shunned by most party leaders and hobbled by a campaign that at times appeared to be falling apart.

Harris' troubles began early this year when she was linked to a defense contractor who pleaded guilty in February to bribing a former California congressman. At the time, contractor Mitchell Wade also admitted giving Harris $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2004.

In his plea agreement with federal authorities, Wade said he had dinner with Harris in Washington in 2005. At that dinner, Wade said, he offered to throw a fundraiser for Harris, and she agreed to sponsor a $10 million appropriations' request that would have benefited Wade's company.

Later, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the two had run up a restaurant tab that night of about $2,800, which Wade paid.

After saying for months that she had paid her own way, Harris backtracked and acknowledged that Wade had footed the entire bill.'

Classy candidate ya got there, folks...but at least she doesn't wear as much makeup as she used too, so she doesn't look quite as embalmed..

Posted by: drindl | September 6, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

JimD, you're great. You are so right about 'motivated' extremists. Unfortunately, hardly anyone is AS mostivated as extremists -- which is why thoroughout history they've tended to dominate governments and populations.

And that's why a complacent, ignorant electorate is a terrible danger in a democracy, as we've seen over the last few years as extremists in office have chipped away at our civil liberties and freedoms and protections guaranteed to us by the Constituion.

Posted by: drindl | September 6, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

In life, as in love, you don't get what you necessarily deserve, you get what you ask for. Soooo, be careful (Florida) what you ask for...........

Posted by: LSterling | September 6, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I simply don't understand the dimwitted willingness of Florida Republicans to fall on their own swords. Harris's primary win tonight is an embarrassment that only guarantees Nelson another six-year term.

Posted by: Rico | September 5, 2006 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi drindl,

I actually changed my registration to Republican so I could vote against Terry. I worry about the influence of motivated extremists in low turnout elections.

The school board race is non-partisan.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 5, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, JimD. Randall Terry is a loon. Thank heavens King is leading. Thank God for science. And I mean that sincerely.

Posted by: drindl | September 5, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Cannot resist posting on events in my home state.

Katherine Harris appears headed to a comfortable win. So does Charlie Crist.

Jim Davis is running 5% ahead of Rod Smith with about 47% of the vote counted.

In FL-13, with 89% of the precincts reporting,Buchanon is running about 8% ahead of Detert. Christine Jennings is cruising to victory on the Dem side.

I live in Northeastern Florida and we have seen some interesting local contests. Randall Terry, formerly of Operation Rescue the radical anti-abortion group and more recently a paid spokesman for Terry Schiavo's parents, is challenging State Senator Jim King, a relatively moderate Republican. King has not always endeared himself to the more ideological in his party. He is more of the old fashioned business oriented Republican. King's biggest failing, as far as the religious right is concerned, was not supporting Jeb's efforts to intervene in the Schiavo case. With almost 60% of the vote counted, King is leading by about 2-1. Terry's support seems concentrated in the more conservative evangelical churches.

A school board candidate who advocated teaching "alternatives" to evolution in biology classes is going down to a resounding defeat in one of our school board districts.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 5, 2006 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Florida 13: Polling shows Buchanan will win easily, with Hudson as low as 3rd. Hudson's main problem is a nasty, negative campaign that besmirched his image as a "good guy." Local GOPers will not likely forgive his violation of the "11th commandment".

Posted by: JR | September 5, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

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