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Crist tops GOP Senate race

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


TAMPA -- State Rep. Victor Crist appeared headed for an easy victory Tuesday night over two other candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the District 13 state Senate seat.

With a majority of the votes counted, Crist, a longtime civic activist who has represented House District 60 since 1992, sailed past former state legislator Faye Culp and political newcomer David Reynaert.

"It's been a grass-roots campaign the whole time and bipartisan," Crist said. "And it's all coming to fruition."

Term limits are forcing Carrollwood Republican John Grant to vacate the District 13 seat he has held for eight years.

Crist, who chairs the state Legislature's justice council, has championed crime legislation and a multimillion-dollar redevelopment of north Tampa's blighted area around the University of South Florida.

During his tenure in the House, Crist acquired the funding and led the development of the first welfare-to-work job centers in Tampa, led the initiative to bring two magnet schools to the USF area and helped establish a medical clinic that opened in the USF area this summer.

As a state senator, Crist has said he would broaden his focus to include health care reform as well as economic development. Crist said his goal would be to serve as chairman of the state Senate committee on appropriations.

Culp, who was elected to House District 57 in 1996, but lost in the Republican primary for state Commissioner of Education to Tom Gallagher in 1998, said Tuesday that she will most likely "be writing a lot of thank you letters."

Culp said her plans include working on a friend's congressional campaign.

The third Republican candidate, Reynaert, a minister to the homeless at a shelter in eastern Hillsborough County, touted himself as the moral conscience of the race. Reynaert, who raised no campaign money, relied on televised debates to get the word out on his campaign.

The winner of the Republican primary faces Democrat Kathy Castor in November.

State Senate District 13 covers south Tampa, Town 'N Country, Carrollwood, Lutz, Keystone, New Tampa, Sulphur Springs, Forest Hills and a portion of central Pasco County.

Senators usually serve four-year terms, but because of reapportionment, the seat will be up for re-election in 2002.

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