TALLAHASSEE - Florida's runoff primary - a catapult for some of the state's best-known Democratic politicians - will be eliminated again in 2004 under a measure passed by the Republican-led Legislature.
The state also suspended the runoff election in 2002.
The Senate voted 38-0 Wednesday on the bill (HB 29B), which passed Tuesday in the House. Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to sign it.
Traditionally, Florida has held the second primary if no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in the first primary.
The 2004 primary would be held Aug. 31 instead of the Tuesday after Labor Day - nine weeks before the Nov. 2 general election.
Democrats unsuccessfully sought to keep the runoff primary in September. Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Bush appointee, said elections supervisors needed the time between the primary and general elections to resolve any disputes and distribute ballots for the November election.
The runoff primary has produced several of Florida's best-known leaders. Former Govs. Reubin Askew, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles, who was making a U.S. Senate bid in 1970, came from runnerup finishes in the primary to win the Democratic nominations in the runoff.
The bill also puts the state in line to receive nearly $74-million in federal money as part of the Help America Vote Act, designed to help reimburse state and county governments for replacing outdated voting equipment.
Hood said much of the money will be spent on voter education and training poll workers.