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Local activists ready for primary politics

The Metzger family arrived at a meeting of the Inverness Democratic Club this week in "Bill Clinton for President" T-shirts.

Local Republican activist Gene McGee is giving Bush/Quayle bumper stickers to all takers, having appropriately adorned his car.

With Tuesday's New Hampshire primary now a line in the history books, Citrus County supporters for at least two of the presidential candidates are gearing up for the Florida campaign.

The results of New Hampshire are on the minds of both McGee, chairman of the Bush campaign in Citrus County, and Art Metzger, the county's Democratic state committeeman and organizer of Clinton's local campaign.

McGee, assistant clerk of the courts, expressed confidence that Bush will defeat challenger Pat Buchanan in the March 10 Florida primary, but added, "It's not going to be a piece of cake."

Meanwhile, Clinton supporters were buoyed by their candidate's strong recovery in the New Hampshire primary, in which the Arkansas governor finished a strong second to Paul Tsongas.

Locally, Metzger said he is organizing volunteers to work phone banks and go to supermarkets to distribute campaign literature and talk with voters.

"My No. 1 target is Bush," he said. "If another Democrat wins the primaries, I'll support him because I feel all of them have good programs."

The local Bush campaign won't be bashing its opponent, either, McGee said, because Buchanan supporters are part of the Republican coalition needed for victory in November.

"Basically our efforts are going to be get-the-vote-out efforts."