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Russell, Mitchell, Hackworth win congressional primaries

Democrat John Russell topped his two opponents to force a rematch against Republican incumbent Ginny Brown-Waite in the 5th Congressional District.

In congressional races to the south, Bill Mitchell won the primary to take on first-term Rep. Gus Bilirakis, whose seat is targeted by Democrats. In Pinellas County, Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth will face 38-year Republican incumbent Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

District 5

Russell received about 50 percent of the vote. Carol Castagnero, a retired teacher from Lakeland, took second with 38 percent, and David Werder, a perennial candidate from Brooksville, finished last with 10 percent.

The race was skewed by incredibly meager voter participation. Many Democratic voters said they were unimpressed with the quality of the candidates.

"I don't know one from the other," said Sandra Cichon of Spring Hill.

Russell, who won the Democratic nomination in 2006, said his campaign going forward will focus on Brown-Waite's six-year record in Congress.

"Tomorrow (we) begin the campaign to bring change to Congress," he told Bay News 9. "We are going to try to draw distinctions between what has been promised and what has been accomplished by the congresswoman."

District 9

In one of Tuesday's closest races, Mitchell, a Tampa lawyer, edged out John Dicks and Anita de Palma, with 38 percent of the vote.

Dicks, a former mayor of Plant City, came in second with 33 percent. De Palma, a Hispanic activist, trailed with 29 percent.

Mitchell's strongest support came from Pasco County, while Dicks garnered more votes in Hillsborough. The race was tightest in Pinellas, where each picked up about a third of the votes.

"Pasco County is a very patriotic county. There are many veterans there and they feel very strongly about the United States," said Mitchell, 61, a former naval submarine officer and Democratic nominee in 2006. "I think we share the same values."

District 10

Hackworth will take on Young, an icon in Pinellas County who has represented the area in Congress for nearly four decades.

Hackworth won the Democratic primary with 47 percent, defeating Samm Simpson with 29 percent and Max Linn with 24 percent. He argued that it would take a citizen-legislator connected to voters' needs to challenge a formidable incumbent like Young.

"I had a message, and I think people responded to it," Hackworth said. "I will use same message against Bill Young."

Simpson, who challenged Young alone in 2006, had the smallest budget of the contenders. Linn, a multimillionaire former financial planner, sank more than $500,000 into his campaign, but came in last.

Russell, Mitchell, Hackworth win congressional primaries 08/26/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 5:26pm]
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