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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hernando schools race: tortoise vs. hare?



BROOKSVILLE -- For candidates on Election Day, it seems to be almost a job requirement to talk yourself hoarse and log maximum miles in search of those final undecided votes.

But even if you lack a campaign jet and traveling press corps, there's more than one way to go about it. Some subscribe to the tortoise theory, while others make like the hare.

Take Gene Magrini and James Yant, the two candidates running for an at-large seat on the Hernando County School Board. Today both faced the challenge of covering a sprawling, 40-mile-wide county with 56 polling places.

Magrini employed what might be described as a barnstorming strategy -- to see and be seen at the maximum number of precincts. He was planning to start at the crack of dawn in Ridge Manor, the county's easternmost point, and work his way toward densely populated Spring Hill and U.S. 19.

"Then I'll probably take my wife to lunch, since we never get to go to lunch together," Magrini said.

Yant, meanwhile, was opting for a more strategic Election Day approach. He analyzed early voting patterns and was planning to focus on the handful of polling places where the largest numbers of people had yet to vote.

"There are two polling places with large numbers of people who haven't voted yet," Yant said outside the polling place at St. Joan of Arc Church in Spring Hill. "This is one of them."

Going into Election Day, Magrini boasted more endorsements, including the key backing of the teachers' union. But Yant brought more than 30 years of experience as a guidance counselor and local businessman, as well as the momentum of a decisive primary victory on Aug. 27. He polled 45.6 percent against Magrini's 28 percent and the 26 percent garnered by third-place finisher Robert Neuhausen.

For sure, Yant will save on gas today, while Magrini looks for a last-minute name recognition boost. As for votes: stay tuned.

Tom Marshall, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:39am]


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