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Election 2004

Bradley, a third Senate candidate, for 'veterans and common man'

By STEVE BOUSQUET
Published October 23, 2004

PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Voter drives flood rolls
Protesters shadow Bush at fundraiser
Political imagery gets wild in TV ads
Clinton comeback, good for Kerry?

AT A GLANCE
Bush Kerry

POLITICS 2004
Lucy Morgan column: Vicious attack ads obscure vital issues in campaign home-stretch
Hillsborough: Lost votes should oust official, opponent says
Tampa Bay: Students complain of false party swap
State: Bradley, a third Senate candidate, for 'veterans and common man'
The nation: Ballot battles rise in the courts
Pasco: Returns look good for early voting plan
Citrus: Wooten says flier's fraud claim untrue

CAMPAIGN CALENDAR

TODAY: Hip Hop Summit Action Network Bus Tour 2 p.m., Tropicana Stadium Parking Lot, 1 Tropicana Drive. Headliners will include rap artists Akon and Styllion; ESPN sportscaster and former New York Jet Walter Briggs; Tampa Bay Bucs player Ellis Wyms; and Southern Style rappers Evening Riders, Ace Boon Koon, Black Jack Boys, Kream, and LK & Tom G. Shuttles will transport young voters to early voting locations until 5 p.m. Call 866-0873.

TUESDAY: Meg Ryan and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 6 p.m. , Tampa Theater, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. A discussion on President Bush's environmental policies. Free. Call 595-7314.

WEDNESDAY: Parent Forum on the Pinellas County School Referendum Ballot Question 7 p.m., McMullen-Booth Elementary School, 3025 Union St., Clearwater. Call (813) 884-3782.

TALLAHASSEE - Florida voters have an alternative to Mel Martinez and Betty Castor in the race for U.S. Senate, but they've probably never heard of him.

He's Dennis Bradley of Kissimmee, the Veterans Party of America candidate. The Army veteran and former Republican said he's fed up with both major parties.

"There's not a whit of difference between the Democrats and Republicans," Bradley said. "It's all money, on both sides."

The 63-year-old retired business consultant said he served 51/2 years in the Army before retiring from flight school in 1967 after a back injury.

His campaign Web site, dennisbradleyforussenate.com, shows a smiling Bradley in his Army uniform and explains his positions on veterans' benefits, the economy and taxes.

"I promise to raise hell in Washington, D.C., for the benefit of veterans and the common man," Bradley says on the Web site. Asked to name a preference for president, Bradley said: "That's a hell of a choice, isn't it?"

He said his first choice was Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, a hero of the Gulf War of 1991. Reluctantly, he said, he'll vote for President Bush. He faulted Bush for not doing more to improve veterans' benefits.

"Kids are coming home from Iraq and not getting the health care they deserve," he said.

Bradley loaned himself $10,000 to pay the qualifying fee to get on the ballot. He planned to run as a Republican until he read a news article about a new Veterans Party chapter in Florida.

While working for a modular home manufacturer in Vermont in 1978, Bradley ran for state attorney general. He won the Republican primary but, as he put it, "got creamed" in the general election.

In that race, Bradley advocated legalization of marijuana. The Associated Press quoted him as saying he had never smoked pot, but the sale of marijuana through state-run liquor stores would permit the state to control its purity and bring "hefty revenues" to Vermont.

With most polls showing the Florida Senate race too close to call, a third-party candidate could be a spoiler. But if history is any guide, Bradley doesn't have much of a chance.

Five minor-party candidates combined for a paltry 2.8 percent of the vote in Florida's last U.S. Senate race in 2000.

Though only 1,502 voters are registered Veterans Party members in Florida, Bradley said he would win easily if most of Florida's 3-million veterans cast ballots for him.

"We're using the Internet and word of mouth. It will either work or it won't," Bradley said.

Times staff writer Aaron Sharockman and researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

[Last modified October 23, 2004, 01:12:14]


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