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Endorsements, bloodlines no help for many in state races

TALLAHASSEE — The power of Gov. Charlie Crist's endorsement proved to be a mixed bag on Tuesday as one Crist-backed candidate was headed for victory while another went down to defeat.

In the 16th Congressional District north of West Palm Beach, Crist-backed lawyer Tom Rooney led state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the race for the Republican nomination and will face freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney.

In a Sarasota-area GOP primary for a state Senate seat, former state Rep. Nancy Detert of Venice led Rep. Michael Grant of Port Charlotte, who had Crist's support.

Grant raised $400,000, more than twice as much as Detert, and loaned his campaign $122,000 more. But Detert had the backing of outgoing Sen. Lisa Carlton, and the bulk of the moderate district's voters are in Sarasota County, where Detert is better known. The winner faces Democrat Morgan Bentley in November.

Having the support of state Republican chairman Jim Greer didn't help in two state House races. Greer backed Chris France in Daytona Beach and Danny Jazarevic in Martin County — and both lost.

Political bloodlines didn't matter much, either, as Republicans Will Pruitt and Mario Rubio, the brothers of the Legislature's two presiding officers, lost bids to join the state House.

But Democrat Dwight Bullard, son of state Sen. Larcenia Bullard, held a commanding lead in his bid for a Miami-Dade House seat.

In heavily Democratic Broward County, former Rep. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale crushed three rivals for a state Senate seat and faces a token write-in opponent.

Also in Broward, former Rep. Eleanor Sobel led former Rep. Ken Gottlieb in a three-way state Senate race that included a third ex-lawmaker, Tim Ryan. The only November opposition in that district also is a write-in.

In Miami, lawyer Joe Geller, brother of outgoing state Sen. Steve Geller, fell short in his second bid for the state House, losing to Richard Steinberg, son of former state Sen. Paul Steinberg, who faces only a write-in opponent in November.

Newcomers elected to the state House included Republican Scott Plakon of Longwood and Democrat Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed in Broward.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com.

Endorsements, bloodlines no help for many in state races 08/26/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 1:07am]
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