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Candidates announce their run for Senate

In the contest for a U.S. Senate seat, Bill McCollum leads in fundraising with $3.4-million.

By WILLIAM YARDLEY and TIM NICKENS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Willie Logan said he has "gas money" compared with the campaign accounts of his opponents. Bill Nelson said he's "pawing at the dirt" to get started. And Bill McCollum reminded everyone he always opposes tax increases.

All three men showed up Monday in the Capitol to formalize their candidacies for the U.S. Senate on the first day of qualifying for congressional races.

Nelson, the state insurance commissioner, is the presumptive Democratic nominee. McCollum, a U.S. representative from Longwood who represents the Orlando area, is seeking the Republican nomination, along with state Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher.

Gallagher will file his qualifying papers later this week, campaign manager Marty Ryall said.

Logan, a state representative from Opa-locka, is running without any party affiliation.

The winner will succeed Republican Sen. Connie Mack, who is retiring after 12 years.

Opinion polls indicate McCollum and Gallagher are in a tight race for the Republican nomination, although a large number of Republican voters are undecided as the campaigns gear up for the Sept. 5 primary.

McCollum has raised $3.4-million, three times as much as Gallagher's $1.1-million. But Gallagher has run five statewide campaigns while this is McCollum's first run for statewide office.

As the more conservative candidate, McCollum describes himself as the "logical heir" to Mack. He mentioned Mack's name at least six times Monday and noted he has never voted for a tax increase. Gallagher backed a 1-cent increase in the sales tax in the early 1990s that would have been used to build prisons.

"I am the only candidate in this race who has never proposed a new tax," McCollum said, "and I never will."

Nelson has raised $3.1-million while running a low-profile campaign as he focused on the legislative session that ended Friday.

"We've got the Democratic Party pretty unified," he said.

Logan was the first African-American to be the Democrats' choice to lead the Florida House, but he was ousted in 1998 by white legislators. That triggered a backlash among black voters across the state and opened the door for Republicans to court their support. He has raised $310,000 and has spent nearly all of it.

Now Logan is kicking off a motorcycle ride that will cover the length of the state, similar to the walk Lawton Chiles took 30 years ago in his successful Senate campaign. "I understand this is an uphill battle," said Logan, who will make the tour on a Yamaha 1100. "Nothing worth having is not worth working hard for."

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