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Bilirakis has big lead in District 9


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, appeared to be breezing to a 10th term representing U.S. House District 9.

The 18-year incumbent had no Democratic Party opponent and led Reform Party candidate Jon Duffey approximately 4-to-1 with about half the votes counted.

"When I first started out on this, I never expected I'd be here this long," Bilirakis said. "But here I am. It's a nice feeling."

Bilirakis, 70, a lawyer, former restaurant owner and petroleum engineer, promised to fight for veterans benefits, increased military spending and prescription drug benefits for seniors.

A former television news producer, Duffey, 52, of Odessa ran a low-budget campaign to oppose the well-financed Bilirakis.

"I'm thrilled," Duffey said of his showing. "I think we've gotten the message out that the people want campaign finance reform. That was really the only issue I brought."

U.S. House District 9 includes parts of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

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