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Governor's e-mails show aftermath of election

By SHELBY OPPEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 21, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- In the week after Election Day, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush received 27,000 e-mails from well-wishers and name-callers alike.

But it was one he got Nov. 13 from DonaKay Hannagan in Highlands County that touched a nerve. Hannagan described a phone call she received that said "your vote along with 19,000 others was thrown out. Call Gov. Bush to find out why."

"This is a concerted effort to divide and destroy our state," Bush then wrote in a 10:54 p.m. e-mail to his chief of staff, Sally Bradshaw, and his spokeswoman, Katie Baur.

The e-mail was released by the governor's office Monday after several newspapers, including the St. Petersburg Times, requested Bush and key staff members' correspondence since Nov. 7.

Though the majority of Bush's "sent" e-mails have not yet been produced, those that were contain scant mention of the presidential election drama co-starring Bush's brother, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Amid exchanges about policy issues and upcoming events, Bush's missive to Bradshaw and Baur stands out.

"This is obscene," Bradshaw responded to the governor's e-mail about the phone calls urging Floridians to call Jeb Bush. "I hope we are getting this to the press. Shouldn't we give them a list of all the scare tactics the Gore campaign is using?"

Baur replied: "Absolutely, and that is what I am gathering."

Baur, who took unpaid leave immediately after Election Day to help the Republican Party and the George W. Bush campaign deal with the media onslaught at the Capitol, said Monday that she did not act on Bradshaw's request.

"I realized that would be more the job of the (Republican) party to gather that information," Baur said.

Between Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, Bush received thousands of e-mails from all over the country. Many urged a revote in Palm Beach County; others pleaded with him not to let Vice President Al Gore "steal the election."

In the early morning hours of Nov. 8 -- before the TV networks rescinded Bush's victory in Florida -- the e-mails were upbeat.

"How fitting to have our great state of Florida be the one to put President Elect Bush over the top," wrote Kriss and Brock Bowles of Lutz at 3:09 a.m.

When the close election triggered an automatic recount, the tone changed: "Our fingers are crossed, our toes are crossed and we are on our knees saying our prayers in Pasco County," wrote Lucy Cooper and Kim Taylor at 10:29 a.m. Wednesday.

While Bush received plenty of profanity in some e-mails, one couple were polite in their criticism.

"Please ask your brother to give America the President that America desires. . . . America desires Albert Gore for President by a majority of votes," wrote Dorothy and Karl Strinka of Clearwater.

"Thank you for your time."

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