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Brown-Waite fires early shot against Thurman

The victor of the GOP primary heads straight into battle with her main Democratic rival.

By JIM ROSS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2002

The victor of the GOP primary heads straight into battle with her main Democratic rival.

Ginny Brown-Waite didn't waste any time.

In a news release issued Tuesday night, when her victory was assured but before final vote totals were tallied, Brown-Waite said her win over Don Gessner was "an important first step" toward "elect(ing) a representative to the Congress who reflects the values of our 5th Congressional District and who will fight to get things done in Washington."

That was the first of what will be many direct shots the Brooksville state senator takes against longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman.

Brown-Waite has said Thurman's positions -- such as her stance against banning partial-birth abortions -- are out of step with those of her constituents.

In the Republican primary, Brown-Waite took 58 percent of the vote and won the majority of tallies in seven (Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Marion, Sumter, Lake and Polk) of the district's eight counties. Only Levy County went for Gessner, a semiretired businessman from Citrus County.

Three other candidates with no party affiliation will be on the November ballot, but the real battle is between Brown-Waite and Thurman.

Political observers will watch the match closely. Republicans view this as an excellent chance to boot out an entrenched Democratic incumbent; Democrats think victory might catapult them to the majority party in the House.

In other election news:

STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The District 43 primaries were blowouts, with Charles Dean and Jimmy Carr taking 58 percent and 68 percent of the votes, respectively. They will be joined in the general election by Libertarian Neil Polimeni.

Dean, the former Citrus County sheriff, was expected to walk away with the GOP nomination since he has widespread name recognition and a beefy campaign account.

Michael "Joey" White, considered to have the best shot of challenging Dean, only did marginally better than the third Republican candidate, Nancy Dunwoodie.

Wes Stow, chairman of the Citrus County Republican Executive Committee, said White hurt his standing by attacking Dean's conservative record in a last-minute mailing to voters.

Name recognition is not always good, as Alex Ilnyckyj discovered in the Democratic primary. He made headlines for his sometimes aggressive behavior while serving on the Crystal River City Council and again just before the primary, when he quit the GOP.

"I felt positive about winning, but you never know," Carr said, expressing his surprise at the overwhelming support he received.

Carr, a political novice, built his campaign on environmental and education issues. Dean mainly touted his experience, urging voters to send an experienced leader to Tallahassee.

Joe Cino, head of the local Democratic Party and an Ilnyckyj supporter, said he wished Carr well, but "my personal opinion is Charlie Dean is going to squash him like a worm."

SCHOOL BOARD: Pat Deutschman received congratulations Wednesday from enthusiastic children, school staffers and residents for her strong victory in the School Board District 3 race.

"It feels so good," she said.

Deutschman, 51, defeated political newcomer Mark Wilson and now begins her second four-year term.

Wilson received only 40 percent of the vote but was not discouraged. He spent the day after the election applying for jobs in the county's aquatics department.

He said he didn't really expect to win but had learned from the campaign trail.

Wilson actually received fewer votes than Don Bates, who had been running for the District 1 seat until the Times confronted him with a past arrest for indecent exposure. The only other candidate in that race, Lou Miele, won the seat by default when Bates dropped out.

While voters were told not to vote in the race because the results would not be tabulated, the race still was included on the ballot, which had been printed in advance. When the final totals were in, 9,646 voters had voted for Bates and 12,445 had cast ballots for Miele.

THIS AND THAT: Circuit Judge Carven Angel won another six-year term Tuesday night, defeating challenger Michael Takac in a hard-fought battle.

Angel took 52 percent of the vote in the 5th Judicial Circuit, whose member counties are Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Lake and Sumter.

-- Democrats in state Senate District 11, which includes Citrus County west of U.S. 19, chose Lee Cannon over Steve Mattingly. Cannon will face Republican Mike Fasano in November.

-- The state is still trying to figure out whether Bill McBride or Janet Reno won, but there's no doubt whom Citrus Democrats wanted: More than 55 percent of the voters chose McBride to be the candidate who tries to oust Gov. Jeb Bush in November.

Reno took 36.5 percent of the Citrus vote. Daryl Jones won 8.1 percent.

-- Times staff writers Alex Leary, Barbara Behrendt and Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.

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