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Democrats' Brennan cruising to re-election // DISTRICT 51

State Rep. Mary Brennan was well on her way Tuesday night to winning a fourth term in the state House.

With most of the precincts counted late Tuesday, Brennan was leading her Republican challenger, Paul Crumrine, by nearly a 2-1 ratio.

"It's a much larger margin that I've ever had before," Brennan said in a phone interview from the Turtle Club in Largo, where Democrats were celebrating her apparent victory as well as President Clinton's.

Brennan, 42, of Pinellas Parkattributed the margin to name recognition and her work.

"I've been an incumbent for six years and I've got a good record," she said.

Brennan has carved a niche taking the lead on family and mental health issues. She sponsored reforms to the welfare system and the Baker Act. The reform, also sponsored by Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, ensures that certain frail, elderly people aren't committed to psychiatric facilities without an objective evaluation.

"I plan to continue being a voice for people who aren't heard: the elderly and developmentally disabled," she said.

Education, she said, also would remain a priority.

Crumrine, an English and humanities instructor at St. Petersburg Junior College, couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday. He had said Brennan would be tough to unseat.

In 1994, when Crumrine lived in Palm Harbor, he ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian for House District 49. He now lives in Largo.

House District 51 covers parts of Pinellas Park, Largo and Clearwater.