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Chiles phones in speech for fund-raiser

Die-hard Democrats, judicial candidates and curious campaign followers packed the Bayshore Conch Club restaurant in Hyde Park on Wednesday to raise funds for gubernatorial candidate Lawton Chiles. A five-minute telephone call from Chiles, who was campaigning in Jacksonville, highlighted the late-afternoon event as about 400 people, many wearing Chiles buttons, enjoyed drinks and small talk.

In his address, Chiles asked campaigners to continue to work hard and remember "we have just 12 more days."

Karen Moore, an energetic woman who said she is active in the Young Democrats as well as the Hillsborough Democratic Black Caucus, said the turnout proved the strong loyalty that Democrats have to Chiles.

"You have to know there is some very overwhelming support here," said Moore, as she inspected the crowd, which spilled out onto the sidewalk. "We just believe in Chiles so much."

Others in the crowd _ which included Mayor Sandy Freedman, state Sen. Helen Gordon Davis and various city and council members _ acknowledged that they had other agendas.

Judicial candidate Bob Simms said he wanted to shake hands and meet people.

"Let's face it, you've got to get your name out here," said Simms, after greeting a cluster of business people.

Claudia Isom-Rickert, another judicial candidate, agreed.

"Tonight was an opportunity to see a lot of people who will be voting," Isom-Rickert said.

All the while, volunteers at a front booth handed out bumper stickers and buttons while supporters dumped $100 checks into a fishbowl. The amount of money raised was not available Wednesday evening.