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Martinez criticism returned to sender

Published Oct. 18, 2005

David Paul, the ex-banker whose name has become political poison ivy, popped up Wednesday as a topic in the race for governor. In a sternly worded letter, Gov. Bob Martinez demanded that his opponent, former U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles, explain his "one or more meetings" with Paul in 1987 and 1988. Paul was chairman of the now-failed CenTrust Savings Bank of Miami.

The Chiles campaign responded that Chiles remembers one 15-minute introductory meeting with Paul in 1987. In addition, Chiles apparently attended a reception in 1988 that Paul also attended, according to Paul's now-public calendar, said campaign aide Jim Krog. Paul did not contribute to Chiles during his tenure in the Senate, and Chiles never did anything for Paul, Krog said.

Krog pointed out that Paul's calendar also shows Paul once attended a reception held by Martinez.

The 1988 reception at the governor's mansion was held to honor Miami's New World Symphony and its backers, Martinez aide Brian Ballard said. Martinez and Paul talked for about five minutes, although the topic was not banking, Ballard said. "The only reason the governor remembers is because he (Paul) came up and introduced himself," Ballard said.

Budget battle cuts into campaigning

TALLAHASSEE _ The budget impasse in Washington is playing havoc with re-election campaigns for Florida's U.S. House members, many of whom have to ask for votes by phone and fax.

October has been virtually a lost campaign month: House members have been trapped in Washington by the inability of Congress and President Bush to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit.

"It's frustrating," said Reggie Garcia, campaign manager for Rep. Sam Gibbons, D-Tampa. "I've been telling Congressman Gibbons that I'm going to send him an absentee ballot so he can vote."

Gibbons, the second-ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, has been directly involved in the negotiations, but even less-senior members have stayed in the capital to vote.

Rep. Bill Grant, a two-term Madison Republican in a tough re-election fight with Democrat Pete Peterson, hasn't been in his North Florida district since late September, said campaign spokesman Dave Coley.

He even had to miss an appearance this week with Barbara Bush and might miss his only scheduled debate with Peterson on Friday.

"We'd like to be out there shaking hands, but we don't think it's hurting us," Coley said. "He's up there doing what the people elected him to do, represent them."

Candidate draws flak for wearing uniform

JACKSONVILLE _ A Duval County School Board candidate says her incumbent opponent is cashing on in the Mideast crisis by wearing his Navy uniform to school events during the campaign.

Bill Bosworth, a captain on active status in the Naval Reserve, was in uniform at the board meeting Oct. 16 and was photographed in uniform Oct. 12 with a high school homecoming queen.

Nancy Corwin, Bosworth's opponent in the non-partisan election Nov. 6, said Tuesday that Bosworth is giving the impression that he was called to assist locally during Operation Desert Shield "or that he has been called because of the national defense, which is not true."

Bosworth, a physician, reports for duty each day at the medical dispensary at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. When asked if he had been called to active duty or had volunteered, Bosworth would not answer.

He said he is in uniform at school events because he is on his way to or from work.

Pat McMeel, a spokeswoman for the Naval Reserve in New Orleans, said Bosworth was "not among those called up for Operation Desert Shield."

Ms. McMeel said reservists are restricted from politicking in uniform or using a uniform to further a political career.

6.03-million register to vote in November

TALLAHASSEE _ The 6.03-million voters registered for the Nov. 6 election is just shy of Florida's all-time record, but the number of Republican voters reached a new high, officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Jim Smith said the total figure was 16,186 voters short of the record set before the 1988 presidential election.

The GOP has added another 51,490 voters since the September primary for a total of about 2.4-million.

The Democrats increased their rolls by 49,408 to 3.1-million.

Dot Joyce, director of the Division of Elections, is predicting up to 65 percent of voters will cast ballots next month.

_ Compiled from reports by staff writer John D. McKinnon and the Associated Press.