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Ex-New Hampshire Sen. Smith ends campaign for Florida seat

By wire services
Published April 16, 2004

MIAMI - Former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith on Thursday ended his campaign to seek the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in his new home of Florida, citing a poor start to fundraising.

Smith raised only $66,000 for the campaign in a crowded race that features five Republican candidates who have topped the $1-million mark.

"In spite of our best effort, we just didn't raise enough money to make the campaign viable," Smith said in a release.

Instead, Smith said he has accepted an appointment to be president of the Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit group that represents the public's interest in the massive Everglades restoration. Smith backed the restoration plan as chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee in 2001.

Smith was receiving only about 1 percent support in recent polls.

Smith served two terms in the Senate representing New Hampshire before John Sununu defeated him in the 2002 Republican primary. He moved to Sarasota last year, where he was hired as a real estate specialist in June to sell high-end waterfront properties in Longboat Key.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez led all Republicans in fundraising in the first three months of this year, bringing in $1.7-million. A spokesman for Larry Klayman said Friday the Miami attorney raised $1.3-million in that period.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd and former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum also have more than $1-million on hand and Miami businessman Doug Gallagher is spending $1.2-million of his own money.

Report: Disney World will test metal detectors at parks

ORLANDO - Walt Disney World will test metal detectors after-hours in the next week at its parks to determine whether they should be used full-time, a television station reported Thursday.

Although there are no current threats specifically targeting the Disney parks, the company is considering incorporating the magnetic-style screening devices into its security plans, WKMG-TV in Orlando reported.

Some wrinkles may have to be ironed out, such as whether the screening devices will be set off by the magnetic field coming from the monorail, the station reported.

Disney spokesman Bill Warren said he couldn't comment on the report.

Police: 17-year-old hired undercover officer to kill mother

FORT MYERS - A 17-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly hired a man - who turned out to be an undercover police officer - to kill his mother.

Police said Carlos Marcelo Chereza made a $2,000 deal with the officer to stage a burglary at their home and shoot 50-year-old Dreama Chereza while Carlos was locked in another bedroom.

Chereza gave the detective a key to the apartment, a drawing of its layout and a photograph of his mother. He also specified "that he didn't want anything to happen to the television," according to police reports.

Police did not release a motive.

The Cypress Lake High School junior was arrested Tuesday on one charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

Police said Chereza first approached a police informer, offering to pay him $10,500 to kill Dreama Chereza. When the informer refused, Chereza asked him for a gun to do the job himself. Instead, the informer introduced Chereza to the undercover detective, who would "get the job done."

Dreama Chereza said Wednesday her son "is a good young man" who was upset by a recent fire and other problems.

"He's been through a lot of trauma," she said. "He just snapped."

[Last modified April 16, 2004, 01:05:40]

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