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Field for insurance post narrows

State Rep. Tim Ireland says he will not run for state insurance commissioner.

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- After repeatedly saying he would not get out of the race, former State Rep. Tim Ireland Thursday dropped out of the Republican race for state insurance commissioner.

In an e-mail statement late Thursday, Ireland said he spent several days in prayer before deciding to step aside.

"There comes a time when one must think of the greater good and put aside their personal desires and hopes," Ireland wrote.

The move clears the way for State Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher to become the Republican nominee in a race that has been marked by constant change.

"Obviously, I'm very happy he has made that decision," Gallagher said Thursday night. "Certainly it's the right decision, as far as I'm concerned."

Ireland made the decision a day before the deadline for candidates to qualify. The formal qualifying period ends at noon today. If no one else qualifies, Gallagher will face State Rep. John Cosgrove, a Miami Democrat, in the November general election.

Senate President Toni Jennings dropped out of the insurance commissioner race last month in a surprising move that had Republicans scrambling to find another candidate.

At the request of Gov. Jeb Bush and GOP Chairman Al Cardenas, Gallagher got into the insurance commissioner race after dropping out of the U.S. Senate race. That left U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum as the likely nominee for in the Senate race. He'll face Democrat Bill Nelson in November.

Ireland said he decided to drop out because he thinks Gallagher has the best chance of being elected and has previously served Floridians well in the post.

Gallagher served as insurance commissioner from 1989 until he left in 1994 to run for governor. He was elected to the education post in 1998.

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