Primaries range from routine to bizarre
By ADAM C. SMITH
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000
In Gadsden County, 29-year incumbent Sheriff W.A. Woodham defeated Quincy Police Chief Rodney Moore, whose arrest on corruption charges sparked accusations of a racist setup.
And in Baker County, Sheriff Joey Dobson was beating his two Democratic primary opponents and headed toward a general election race against Republican Julian Pendleton. Trouble is, no one can find Pendleton, who was last seen leaving a candidates' forum Aug. 19.
Across Florida, Primary Day voters faced a wide array of political decisions, from the volatile to the bizarre.
In Jacksonville, early returns showed voters supporting a half-penny sales tax increase to raise $2.2-billion for road improvements, a new courthouse, downtown arena, baseball stadium and library.
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas led nine candidates in very early returns as he sought a second term Tuesday after months of tumult over the Elian Gonzalez case. He had to win a majority to avoid a runoff.
Penelas outraised his nearest competitor, county Commissioner Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, by more than 4-to-1. Diaz de la Portilla said Penelas "split the community" when he vowed police would not help federal authorities return Elian to his father.
Former State Sen. W.D. Childers, ousted from the legislature after 30 years because of term limits, was nominated to an Escambia County Commission seat.
In the race for U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler's seat near Jacksonville, former Florida Senate President Ander Crenshaw won the GOP nomination, while retired motel owner Tom Sullivan led Democrats.
Further south, State Rep. Bill Sublette and first-time candidate Ric Keller head into a runoff for Bill McCollum's Congressional seat near Orlando. The winner faces Democrat Linda Chapin in November.
In Lee County, three-term Republican Sheriff John McDougall, best known for his outspoken anti-abortion views, was forced into a runoff. Accountant Robert Neeld is the sole Democratic candidate.
- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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