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Race turns into nail-biter


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

TAMPA -- As morning approached, Republican Ed Homan and Democrat Sara Romeo remained tightly locked in the race for District 60 in the Florida House of Representatives.

With 65 percent of the precincts counted, Homan, 57, and Romeo, 51, were nearly even as both candidates patiently watched the results on the internet.

"It's tight, very, very tight," said Romeo, who seemed to have lost her voice by midnight.

"It's just too early to tell," said Homan, a Temple Terrace surgeon who awaited the news with nearly 150 volunteers who walked neighborhoods on his behalf. Both candidates spent the day visiting precincts desperately trying to swing the vote.

"I've been at the polls since 6:30 a.m. shaking hands," said Homan, "telling people, this is my last opportunity to ask for your vote."

The two battled for the seat vacated by Victor Crist, R-Tampa Palms, who was forced out by term limits after serving eight years and waged his own campaign for state Senate.

Homan made education the focus of his campaign, proposing to increase teacher's salaries and add reading specialists to assist children in kindergarten through grade 3. The surgeon also pledged to eliminate much of the bureaucracy involved with HMOs and their complex referal process.

Romeo rallied Tuesday night with supporters at her campaign headquarters to end the final day.

She said she personally visited 18 precincts down the stretch and had supporters at all 40 precincts in the district.

The former PTA president ran on a platform to reduce class size and increase pay for teachers.

She also promoted diverting more money to technical schools, creating more opportunities for students not planning to attend college.

"I was really hoping today that people would just come out and vote," she said near the end of the day in Lutz. "It's been a great day."

-- Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or

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