One of the Republicans who might have challenged U.S. Sen. Bob Graham's re-election bid next year said Monday he'll try to keep his seat in the U.S. House instead. U.S. Rep. Andy Ireland, R-Winter Haven, made the announcement to 350 supporters at his annual Irish Picnic Dinner. Ireland said later he never considered a run against Graham and had discouraged talk of it.
Ireland's name, along with that of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, surfaced this year as possible opponents of the popular Democratic senator, whose first term will be up next year. Schwarzkopf's political intentions are unknown. A poll last month showed Graham could defeat Schwarzkopf (45 percent to 39 percent) and swamp Ireland (56 percent to 20 percent).
It is so early to announce his candidacy for an eighth term in the House that Ireland doesn't even know which counties his House district will include in 1992. The boundaries will be adjusted for population. But he has moved from Polk County to Holmes Beach, on the western edge of Manatee County, and said he will run in whichever district Manatee is placed.
Ireland, 60, has held his fund-raiser picnics for three years and brought as this year's speaker John Sununu, the White House chief of staff who has been in trouble for using government airplanes for ski trips and a visit to the dentist.
Ireland's staff made sure that reporters knew this trip, in a chartered Learjet, cost $7,400 and was paid for by the Andy Ireland Campaign Committee.