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    Miller easily wins primary

    By ALICIA CALDWELL and JOUNICE NEALY

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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    Complete election coverage is one click away

    Les Miller cruised to an easy victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary for the state Senate District 21 seat.

    Miller, the outgoing House minority leader, defeated St. Petersburg's Doug Jamerson, who conceded the race before the final votes were tallied in Pinellas County.

    Miller, of Tampa, will face Republican Rudy Bradley, of St. Petersburg, and Independent Kim ColJohn in the general election for the seat, which includes a large portion of Hillsborough County, a chunk of Pinellas and a piece of Manatee.

    "I'm very happy about it," said Miller, 49. "I think we ran a good campaign. We're feeling very good. We stuck to the issues, and I think that's what the people wanted to hear. We're going to go back out tomorrow morning and discuss the issues."

    Jamerson said he lost the race in Hillsborough, where Miller understandably was strong.

    "Well, as you might imagine, I would have preferred to have won," Jamerson said. "I'm proud and pleased at the support of the people from Pinellas who believe my experience and my background warranted them giving me their vote. I feel good about the fact that we won Manatee County.

    "Our deficit was in Hillsborough, which we knew would be a tough nut to crack," Jamerson said. "I've called Les, and I told him unequivocally I'm a Democrat and I believe in supporting Democrats. So I pledge my support to Les Miller."

    Voters in the contest had a choice between two politicians experienced in the ways of Tallahassee.

    Miller is a manager for minority business enterprise development for Tampa General Hospital and is the outgoing state representative for District 59 in Hillsborough County. He had served since 1992.

    Jamerson, 52, most recently ran his own lobbying firm in Tallahassee. He is the former state secretary of labor and commissioner of education and was a state House representative for more than 11 years.

    The disqualification last month of Republican David Weeks meant Bradley did not have a primary race. Elections officials said it was too late to reprint the ballot, and while Weeks and Bradley will appear on it, elections officials did not plan to tabulate the results.

    Senate District 21 is heavily Democratic -- 62 percent -- and Hillsborough was particularly important since nearly 70 percent of registered Democrats in the district live in Hillsborough.

    Many of the issues discussed in the campaign focused on Tampa politics -- not surprising given the demographics of voters in the district. Debates between Jamerson and Miller touched on the privatization of Tampa General Hospital and the debate about who should run publicly owned Rogers Park Golf Course, a Tampa course that once was the only place African-Americans could play.

    Not all of the issues have been parochial, however. In many of their campaign appearances, the two discussed such concerns as education, growth management, mass transportation and health care.

    Late Tuesday, Miller said he looked forward to winning the seat in the general election and serving the people of the district, part of which overlaps his current House district.

    "I served them eight years in the House and I've tried to serve them to the best of my ability ... and I'm going to do the same thing in the Senate," Miller said.

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