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    Republican veterans lead early returns

    By ADAM C. SMITH

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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    Complete election coverage is one click away

    In some of the most contested Florida Congressional races, veteran Republican politicians were leading less experienced primary challengers in early returns Tuesday.

    Former Florida Senate President Ander Crenshaw appeared to have won the GOP nomination to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler of Jacksonville, while retired motel owner Tom Sullivan was leading in the Democratic primary.

    In the Orlando-area race to succeed Republican Bill McCollum in Congress, state Rep. Bill Sublette had a sizable lead over his two opponents for the right to face Democratic Linda Chapin, a former Orange County Commission chairwoman, in the general election. But Sublette needed at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

    Florida voters faced an array of decisions, from the volatile to the bizarre.

    In the Sarasota area, Robert Salzberg, who last week was found innocent by reason of insanity in an attack on a police officer, was losing his Democratic primary race for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Dan Miller of Bradenton. Early returns showed Daniel Dunn overwhelmingly leading Salzberg.

    In Quincy, where the sheriff's race has helped fuel racial mistrust, 29-year incumbent W.A. Woodham, who is white, had a comfortable early lead against African-American Quincy police Chief Rodney Moore. Moore recently was arrested on corruption charges, prompting cries of racism in Florida's only majority black county.

    And in Baker County, Sheriff Joey Dobson won the Democratic primary, beating Richard Crews, owner of a meat market in Macclenny, and Kenneth Roberts, a high school teacher and former part-time jailer.

    Dobson will face Julian Pendleton, the only Republican in the race, but Pendleton is missing. Pendleton remained missing on the day he would find out who his opponent will be in the November election.

    Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas led nine candidates in very early returns as he sought a second term after months of tumult over the Elian Gonzalez case. He needed 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 that local police would not help federal authorities return Elian to his father in Cuba.

    - Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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