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Chiles backers defect from GOP

A group of prominent St. Petersburg Republicans plans to announce next week they prefer Lawton Chiles as governor over Bob Martinez, the Republican incumbent. The Republicans have set a Tuesday news conference to endorse Chiles at the home of Martha Rudy Wallace. Mrs. Wallace, a former Pinellas School Board chairwoman, is the daughter of Merle Rudy. Rudy migrated to Florida from Ohio and helped establish the modern Republican Party in Pinellas County in the 1940s and 1950s.

It's a split family, however. Mrs. Wallace's son, Peter Rudy Wallace, is a Democratic state representative. Rep. Wallace's career would likely be enhanced with a Democratic governor.

Three other Republicans endorsing Chiles are St. Petersburg lawyers Louie Adcock Jr., Thomas Churchill Dunn and Richard T. Earle Jr., all of whom are active in the community. Also supporting Chiles is Scott Rose, who recently retired as Pinellas County schools superintendent.

Abortion-rights group enters fray

An abortion rights group has spent more than $76,000 in an attempt to help defeat Gov. Martinez as part of a statewide radio and newspaper campaign.

The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) spent $71,444 on a media campaign the last several days, according to records at the Federal Election Commission. The rest was spent on salaries and consulting.

NARAL spokeswoman Renee Cravens said the group is airing anti-Martinez radio advertisements and has bought ads in newspapers. She said the expenditures will continue until the Nov. 6 election. In addition, NARAL plans to mount a campaign against U.S. Rep. Craig James, a freshman Republican from DeLand.

Both James and Martinez are members of the "NARAL Nine," candidates targeted for defeat because of their opposition to abortion. Martinez called a special session of the Legislature last year to tighten abortion restrictions, but the effort failed.

NARAL is conducting advertising campaigns in several other states to defeat abortion opponents. FEC rules permit such "independent expenditure campaigns" if they are not coordinated with a candidate.

Another good rumor shot down

Overthrow! Rebellion! Dirty tricks!

Is Sen. Curt Kiser, R-Palm Harbor, locked in a power struggle with Sen. Jim Scott, R-Fort Lauderdale, who has been designated for the Senate presidency if Republicans gain control of that chamber?

No, says Kiser, emphasizing that he strongly supports Scott.

No, says Scott, blaming Democrats for planting the rumor.

Who cares, says Sen. Gwen Margolis, who insists Democrats will keep control and she'll be president.

So, it's not true. But it has come up.

Scott is among the legislators targeted in a sweeping investigation of lobbyists' gifts and legislative trips by Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs. As the investigation widened, so did speculation that Republicans would turn instead to Kiser. The Pinellas Republican tried briefly to get enough commitments to become Senate president, but gracefully bowed out.

"I don't think there's anything to that myself," said Kiser, adding he had fielded calls from reporters. "All I've done is try to put down the rumors and support Jim."

Scott's version? It's a "Huey Long strategy" devised by those dastardly Democrats. "When you can't win any other way you start a row in the opposition party," he said.

Margolis has heard it, too. Swears she has had nothing to do with it.

Graham's a grandfather

U.S. Sen. Bob Graham became a grandfather Friday.

His oldest daughter had a baby girl at Georgetown Hospital. Sarah Glynn Logan weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and mother and baby are fine.

The parents, Gwen and Mark Logan, are both Washington lawyers.

The baby's other grandparents are Frank and Suzanne Logan of Clearwater.

_ Compiled from reports by Times staff writers Bill Moss, David Dahl and Ellen Debenport.