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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

16 First Dates



Want a date with Tom Gallagher, Katherine Harris, LeRoy Collins, Ric Keller, Dean Cannon, Sandy Adams or Lee Constantine? Next time, attend the East Orange County Chamber of Commerce candidate breakfast.

You gotta give the chamber some kudos. Rather than the traditional, stand-and-give-a-stump-speech seen at most events, the chamber Friday subjected candidates to a version of "speed dating," perhaps the most egalitarian format Buzz has ever seen. The candidates moved between 16 round tables every two minutes, answering questions in the nondescript banquet hall at a Holiday Inn Express.

No one complained, at least not loudly. Among the scenes witnessed by Buzz: Gallagher sitting silently while a local school board candidate held court at his table; Harris beelining for one table only to sidestep when she saw Gallagher already there; Collins holding his tongue while Gallagher finished at his table; write-in gubernatorial candidate C.C. Reed plowing the same path, getting the same face time.

As Buzz writes this in the hotel lobby, Harris' aide is overheard asking the front desk where the closest Starbucks is.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:13pm]


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