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Brown-Waite cruises in an often ugly race

Published November 8, 2006

[Times photo: Maurice Rivenbark]
Early numbers showed Republican Ginny Brown-Waite with a comfortable lead.

After a campaign marked by verbal dueling, name calling and even allegations of pushing, U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, was cruising to victory over Democratic challenger John Russell.

Early numbers showed Brown-Waite with a comfortable lead over Russell in several counties.

The 5th Congressional District includes all of Citrus and Hernando counties, part of Pasco and all or part of five other counties.

Russell has blasted Brown-Waite for supporting big business over the little guy.

He said he would ride a nationwide anti-Republican wave into Congress.

Debates got ugly, with Brown-Waite supporters calling Russell a "cockroach" and the Democrat accusing her of covering up for former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley.

Russell wants Medicare Part D repealed; Brown-Waite has championed the benefit. She supports building a fence along the border with Mexico; Russell favors a crackdown on those who employ illegal immigrants.

Though they started with vastly different positions on the Iraq war - Russell protested it from the beginning - Brown-Waite has withdrawn some of her previously fervent support.

Brown-Waite was first elected to Congress in 2002. She defeated Democratic incumbent Karen Thurman, who now is head of the state Democratic Party.

Russell sought the Democratic nomination in this race in 2004 but lost. He is a certified nurse practitioner from Dade City.

The congresswoman, known for her dedication to veterans issues, declined to comment Tuesday until a victory was confirmed.

Russell, who is outspoken, didn't hesitate to comment.

"We're cautiously optimistic," he said. "I hope we can have a say in our government again."

And if Brown-Waite triumphs? "It's not a good omen. That's all I'm going to say."

Elena Lesley can be reached at or 352 564-3627.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 06:23:37]

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