St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Votes hit close to home for these two

Candidates Karen Thurman and Anna Cowin won their races, thanks to votes from their hometerritory.

By JIM ROSS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 9, 2000


INVERNESS -- Maybe Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was right: There's no place like home.

Karen Thurman and Anna Cowin certainly would agree today.

Bolstered by a strong hometown showing, Thurman, D-Dunnellon, is headed back to Washington, D.C., to serve a fifth consecutive term in the House of Representatives. She took 65 percent of the vote over Gainesville lawyer Pete Enwall.

Meanwhile, Cowin, R-Leesburg, used a powerful push from Lake County to offset a Citrus County loss and prevail in the race to represent District 11 in the state Senate. Her opponent was Leslie Scales, a Democrat who serves on the Marion County School Board.

Thurman was at a disadvantage during the campaign's final days: Congress remained in session, and she was required to remain in Washington, D.C. She was unable to rebut accusations that her Republican opponent made concerning her voting record.

Enwall also said the country needed stronger moral leadership, something that Thurman wasn't providing.

But Thurman has represented Citrus and Marion counties for many years in the state Senate and Congress. People know her and appreciate her constituent service, even if they don't always support her policy views. The 5th Congressional District includes Citrus and Hernando counties, west Pasco, part of Marion, and all or part of Levy, Alachua and Columbia counties.

"When you call Karen Thurman's office, even if she's not there, they'll make an appointment," said Judy Colston, 55, a Republican from Inverness. "She's the only Democrat I voted for, because she's done her job."

"I come home every weekend," Thurman said when asked to explain her popularity. "I go out. I talk to people, to whatever group it is. It could be five people. It could be 200 people. It makes no difference to me.

"I pride myself in the fact that I do listen to what people are saying, and I do try to take what they are saying to me and put them into arguments when I go back to Washington," she said.

Cowin took only 44 percent of the Citrus vote, but scored big with Lake County, which makes up the biggest portion of District 11, which also includes parts of Marion and Seminole counties. Overall, Cowin won 57 percent of the vote to score a comfortable victory.

The Citrus news was not a surprise: Cowin has had trouble in Citrus, where government and business leaders have publicly accused her of neglecting this portion of the district.

But there was one surprise in the race. No outside group spent money to bolster the candidates. During the GOP primary, groups that trial lawyers support came out against Cowin, while a group headed by medical professionals and administrators took a shot at Cowin's opponent, Everett Kelly.

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