By JIM ROSS
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
INVERNESS -- It looks like state Sen. Anna Cowin is going back to Tallahassee.
Early returns showed that voters in District 11, which includes east Citrus County, were supporting Cowin over the Democratic challenger, Marion County School Board member Leslie Scales.
District 11 includes Citrus east of County Road 491 as well as Lake County and parts of Marion, Sumter and Seminole counties.
Cowin, R-Leesburg, lost in Citrus County, where she took 44 percent of the vote. But strong showings in her home county, Lake, and Seminole County appeared to be more than enough to put the incumbent over the top.
"I'm very pleased that the voters are sending me back to represent them," Cowin said late Tuesday. "I ran on my record. I believe that voters want accountability in the schools and reduced taxes, especially the elimination of the intangibles tax, and decrease in crime, especially juvenile crime. These are the issues I worked on."
Scales was holding out hope late Tuesday and wasn't ready to concede defeat. The victory in Citrus, a county that she said Cowin neglected during the past four years, gave her hope.
"I want to thank Citrus County for not responding to the negative. I want to thank Citrus County for looking at the issues and voting for what was best for Citrus County," Scales said.
Cowin sponsored Gov. Jeb Bush's A+
education plan, which calls for stringent testing and provides vouchers to students who attend chronically failing schools. Scales, although in favor of school standards and accountability, has said the FCAT encourages an unhealthy culture of testing and has called vouchers unconstitutional.
Scales also criticized Cowin's record on health care and said a law she sponsored gave insurance company doctors too much power over patient care decisions. Cowin acknowledged it would be better to have the patient's doctor have the final say but said that solution was not politically possible.
Scales took advantage of Cowin's weakness in east Citrus, where government leaders were openly critical of the incumbent.