St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Republican Crist well on path to victory

By STEPHEN HEGARTY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg held a solid lead over Democrat George Sheldon on Tuesday in the race to become Florida's last elected commissioner of education.

As he did in the campaign, Crist got off to a quick start and built a commanding lead.

"I'm proud of the campaign, proud of the issues, and proud to be able to support Gov. Bush's education initiatives," said Crist, who kept watch over the election results at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg.

The race was to determine who would oversee Florida's public schools for an abbreviated two-year term. After that, the state's education chief will be appointed, as spelled out in a constitutional change approved by voters in 1998.

Sheldon ran a competitive campaign despite entering the race six months after Crist, and despite a daunting fundraising disadvantage. According to the latest campaign contribution reports, Crist had $1.7-million to work with, compared with $503,000 for Sheldon. Non-partisan candidate Vassilia Gazetas raised about $5,280.

That fundraising advantage enabled the Republican Crist to put his name and face on billboards and to start airing television ads more than a month ago. Sheldon waited until the last week of the campaign to run television ads.

"Any time you're outspent 3- or 4-to-1, that makes a difference," said Sheldon, who represented Tampa in the Florida House from 1974 to 1982. "But I still think the campaign wasn't just about money. I think we raised the level of the debate in this campaign."

Despite a brief airing of a negative television ad by Crist, both candidates ran campaigns dominated by visits to schools and discussions of serious education issues.

Sheldon proposed universal access to preschool to get children off to a good start, revamping Florida's school testing to measure student progress throughout the school year, and salvaging the board of regents to oversee Florida's university system.

Crist spoke of offering scholarships to lure college students into teaching careers in Florida, using independent auditors to find waste in school district budgets and creating a system of A-through-F safety grades for each school.

Crist, who earned the nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" while in the Florida Senate, got a new moniker from George W. Bush during a recent campaign rally: "Chalkboard Charlie."

This election marks the third consecutive time a St. Petersburg resident has run for education commissioner, but it appeared likely to be the first time that the local guy won. Doug Jamerson lost to Frank Brogan in 1994, and Peter Wallace lost to Tom Gallagher in 1998.

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From the Times election desk

National
  • Recount: Presidency hangs on Florida duel
  • Hour by hour, outcome gets more uncertain
  • State by state
  • Republicans make gains in skirmish for 83 seats
  • Uneasy mood in Austin flips as votes do
  • Voters swayed by economy, health care, education, Social Security
  • Too close to call in Florida but TV did -- regretfully
  • Presidential campaign lures people to polls
  • Fight for Congress: no clear-cut winner
  • Election 2000 in brief

  • State
  • Nelson takes Senate seat
  • Republican Crist well on path to victory
  • Incumbent Crow slightly ahead
  • Race turns into nail-biter
  • Byrd dominating in bid for third term
  • Farkas soundly beats Fischer
  • Foster breaks ahead, takes lead over Baldwin
  • Wallace jumps to early lead over his challenger
  • Henriquez holds strong lead
  • Cowin gains ground in home county
  • Incumbent strides ahead of newcomer
  • Justice leading Kersteen by a comfortable margin
  • Murman headed for second term
  • Newcomer battle ends with Republican Berfield as victor
  • Waters blocks Brennan challenge
  • Miller's hopes look to be affirmed
  • Miller overpowers former Democrat
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Crist has slight lead on Castor
  • Thurman keeps District 5 seat
  • Bilirakis has big lead in District 9
  • C.W. Bill Young winning handily
  • Bullet train heading for success
  • Davis wins third term
  • Putnam takes early lead
  • Incumbent Russell's win thinner than predicted
  • GOP Rep. Miller is likely victor
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Gallagher coasts to victory and his old job
  • Littlefield again defeats McLaughlin
  • Fasano, Fiorentino winning return trip
  • Election roundup
  • Briefly

  • Pinellas
  • Pinellas commission now full
  • One race won by landslide, another by a single vote
  • Lealman heads toward fire tax
  • Bobel, Dedman win approval
  • All changes to charter pass voters' muster
  • Peluso, Henry lead pack of 5 candidates

  • Hillsborough
  • Voters favor most amendments
  • Democrats bustle to get the vote out
  • Iorio builds her solid lead on record
  • Holt closing in on a third term
  • Term limits prevailing
  • Ober poised in attorney race
  • Republicans may reign in commission
  • Ake appears on his way to keep tenure unbroken
  • Results mixed on city amendments
  • Incumbent trails in four-way race
  • Two incumbents, Miller leading

  • Pasco
  • Altman holds slim lead
  • Challenger upsets incumbent Cannon
  • Second run is the charm for Schrader
  • Johnson captures Meadow Pointe post

  • Hernando
  • Bernardini bests longtime adversary
  • Sikes will succeed her sister upon retirement
  • Experienced teacher wins out over mom
  • Williams captures historic win
  • Early tally: Andrews first, Martin second, Hollander third
  • Democrats take over the board
  • Big ticket polls' big draw

  • Citrus
  • Activist Warren sails past Cooper
  • Council incumbents out; new mayor in
  • Schultz wins, will serve a final term ending in 2004
  • Hickey wins Citrus superintendent race
  • Bush is easy winner in the schoolhouse
  • Eager voters met with long lines
  • Candidate bounces out of hospital to ply voters


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