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Cowin beats Lamb; will now face Dean // STATE SENATE DISTRICT 11

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Anna Cowin breezed past Hope Lamb in the Republican runoff for state Senate District 11, taking 58 percent of the vote.

Next up for Cowin is Charles Dean, the longtime Citrus County sheriff who has set his sights on Tallahassee.

District 11 includes Citrus County east of County Road 491, all of Lake County and parts of Seminole, Sumter and Marion counties. The incumbent, Karen Johnson, resigned to run for Citrus County school superintendent, a race she was knocked out of Tuesday night.

The majority of voters are in Lake, the county where both of Tuesday's candidates live and are known best. Cowin won that battle, raking in 62 percent of the vote.

Lamb ran neck-and-neck with Cowin in the four other counties, but it was not enough.

"We had a very diverse plan. We did a lot of different types of things," Cowin said of the attack she mounted against Lamb. The Cowin campaign included television, radio and mail.

Cowin, a teacher, also noted that she has served for eight years on the Lake County School Board. Lamb owns a nursery with her husband, and her only political exposure _ other than hosting talk radio programs _ came in a failed campaign for the Lake County Commission in 1994.

While on the School Board, Cowin helped bring police dogs into the schools for drug checks. She has run on a platform that emphasizes no new taxes, reduction in government interference and support for tort reform.

The battle with Dean is certain to be interesting, matching the burly Florida native against a much different New York transplant. Democrats want to hold the seat just as desperately as Republicans want to capture it.