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Baldwin, Foster meet again in fall

By SUE CARLTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


TAMPA -- Leland Baldwin and Robert Foster Jr., two of four lawyers seeking to replace a retiring circuit judge, will face each other again in November.

Baldwin gathered about 31 percent of the vote and Foster finished second with about 28 percent, meaning they will face each other in a runoff.

"I'm ecstatic. I'm overwhelmed," Baldwin, a 37-year-old former prosecutor, said from above the din of supporters at her South Tampa home late Tuesday. "I'm honored."

Foster, contacted at the home of a relative, echoed the sentiment.

"I'm very excited to be part of this," he said. "I'm very happy."

The race was marked by the candidates' varied experience.

Baldwin made headlines in her nine years at the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office. Among other high-profile cases, she prosecuted three young people found guilty of knocking down a stop sign and causing three traffic fatalities. A Gainesville native, both her parents are lawyers. Her father is well-known University of Florida law professor Fletcher Baldwin.

In her campaign, Baldwin legally added the middle name Anne to ensure that voters would know she's a woman.

Foster, the husband of Judge Florence Foster, is a Tampa native, Plant High School graduate and member of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. He has practiced law for 25 years, largely criminal and family law. He often represents members of law enforcement. Experience was a cornerstone of his campaign platform. Foster, 53, says he has learned much from watching his wife's experiences on the bench.

Also in the running was Ellen Ware, a board-certified lawyer who handles divorces and other family law matters. New York-born and Vassar educated, Ware was recently widowed when her husband, Mark Wallace, was one of three people killed in the crash of a hospital helicopter he was piloting. She finished with about 23 percent.

The fourth candidate was attorney David Dee, who has been a quasi-judge since 1993. Dee, 43, is an appointed hearing officer and has presided over traffic ticket, animal control and teen smoking cases.

He finished with about 17 percent of the vote.

The winner in the November runoff will replace retiring Circuit Judge Ralph Steinberg.

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