Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Texas Governor Crushing GOP Hopefuls in Florida

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Texas Governor Crushing GOP Hopefuls in Florida

Article excerpt

With a boost from his brother and most of Florida's other top Republicans, George W. Bush is crushing his GOP presidential opponents in the state, a new poll shows.

Bush, the brother of Gov. Jeb Bush, has the support of 51 percent of likely Republican primary voters, according to the poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. Elizabeth Dole is a distant second at 14 percent, followed by John McCain at 11 percent and Steve Forbes at 8 percent.

The Texas governor also has a sizable lead in Florida over Democratic candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley. Bush leads Gore by a margin of 49 percent to 35 percent and is ahead of Bradley by a margin of 51 percent to 35 percent.

When possible Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan is included, Bush would receive 46 percent, Gore would get 33 percent, and Buchanan would get 6 percent, the poll shows.

On the Democratic side, Gore leads Bradley by a margin of 46 percent to 31 percent, the poll shows.

The poll, which was conducted for several news organizations statewide, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points in the general election matchups and 5 percentage points in the primaries. Mason-Dixon polled 630 registered voters from Oct. 7 to Saturday.

Last week, George W. Bush announced that his Florida campaign leadership would include his brother, House Speaker John Thrasher of Orange Park, Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher and Senate President Toni Jennings of Orlando.

In a nod to Bush's strength, the other candidates have largely stayed away from Florida, including not attending the state Republican convention last weekend. Bush, who is slated to come to Jacksonville for a Nov. 8 fund-raiser, spoke to the convention delegates.

Forbes, a millionaire publisher, appears to be making the strongest effort of the other candidates. Forbes' campaign fed lunch to hundreds of convention delegates last weekend, and he and long-shot candidate Alan Keyes are expected to address the Christian Coalition of Florida on Nov. 9 in Orlando.

Bush's lead in Florida, however, could be meaningless if the GOP nomination is decided before the state's March 14 primary election. A week earlier, 14 states, including New York and California, will hold primaries that could decide the race.

BATTLE LINES: Every 10 years, Florida lawmakers play the high-stakes game of redrawing district lines.

Slight changes can influence which candidates win legislative seats and, ultimately, which parties control the House and Senate.

But a coalition of groups announced this week that it wants to ask voters next year to take away the Legislature's redistricting powers and give the job to an appointed commission.

The coalition, which includes groups such as the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Florida, says the change would take the politics out of redistricting and ensure that districts aren't gerrymandered to help lawmakers. …

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