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Waters blocks Brennan challenge


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

Leslie Waters easily won a second term in the state House, defeating Mary Brennan, who had tried to reclaim the District 51 seat.

Waters, R-Seminole, led throughout Tuesday evening as the returns came in slowly.

By the end of the evening, Waters' lead held. She finished with about 54 percent of the vote to Democrat Brennan's 46 percent.

"We ran a very energetic and enthusiastic grass-roots campaign," Waters said. "We have had the momentum going."

Waters said she knocked on 30,000 doors during the past two years, even in non-election seasons, to make sure people in the district got to know her.

In addition, she said, she held town meetings to maintain her visibility in the district.

Her goals during the next two years include emphasizing elder care, fine-tuning education reform and ensuring the area has a sufficient water supply and other infrastructure to keep going.

Brennan, 46, had held the District 51 seat until two years ago, when she left it to run unsuccessfully for state Senate.

She blamed her loss to Waters on a lack of money and a last-minute mail campaign that Brennan criticized as untrue and unfair.

Left unmentioned was Brennan's disclosure last week that she has been suffering from a deep depression that had prevented her from meeting some obligations and effectively campaigning.

When pressed, Brennan said she had no way of knowing whether her announcement about her mental health had contributed to her loss.

Waters declined to comment on Brennan's health, saying she wished her opponent well.

Waters, 53, is retired from management with Allstate Insurance and has served as the vice chairwoman of the Insurance Committee while in the Legislature.

Both of those earned her Brennan's criticism during the campaign.

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