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Election 2004

Castor gets endorsement of state teachers union

By Times Staff and Wire Reports
Published January 16, 2004

Democrat Betty Castor on Friday won the endorsement of the union representing Florida teachers in the crowded campaign for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bob Graham.

The Florida Education Association said all three Democrats support the union's philosophy. But an FEA spokesman said Castor's experience in education, including her years as president of the University of South Florida and two statewide elections as education commissioner, tipped the scale in her favor.

Besides Castor, U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas seek the Democratic nomination.

The union opposes school vouchers and privatization of education programs and has said President Bush has not put enough money into the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The FEA played a dominant strategic and financial role in Bill McBride's unsuccessful campaign for governor against Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002, but federal election laws will sharply curtail the union's clout in the Senate race.

Harris to say whether she'll run for Senate today

MIAMI - U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota will announce her decision today on whether to seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, aides said.

Harris, who as Florida secretary of state oversaw the hotly disputed 2000 presidential recount that gave George Bush a crucial 537-vote victory over Al Gore in Florida, will hold a news conference in her hometown.

Polls have shown Harris would be the immediate front-runner in the GOP primary if she enters the race. But there also has been wide speculation that the Bush administration doesn't want her to run because it would energize Democratic voters angry about her 2000 role. It has been reported that the White House persuaded Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez to resign and enter the race to discourage Harris.

"I am grateful for all the encouragement, energized about tomorrow and at peace with my decision," Harris said in a statement Thursday.

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 01:49:01]

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