Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush's Lead Still Strong MacKay Blames Negative Ads

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush's Lead Still Strong MacKay Blames Negative Ads

Article excerpt

When Jeb Bush jumped out to a big early lead over Buddy MacKay

in this year's race for governor, campaign officials and

political experts said it was only a matter of time before the

race narrowed.

But with little more than a month to go before the Nov. 3

election, that still hasn't happened.

A statewide poll released this week shows Bush, a Republican

businessman from Miami, with a 52 percent to 37 percent lead

over MacKay, the Democratic lieutenant governor. Eleven percent

were undecided.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research

Inc. for several Florida news organizations, showed MacKay

gaining only 1 percentage point in the past month. A poll

released in late August showed Bush ahead 51 percent to 35

percent.

MacKay yesterday put his best spin on the results, saying he

had "survived $3 million worth of false, distorted and negative

advertising" by Republicans. MacKay, who has been portrayed in

GOP ads as a tax-and-spend liberal, said he will draw closer as

voters start paying attention to the election.

"People focus during October on the future of the state,"

MacKay said.

Bush spokesman Cory Tilley, however, said polls show voters

reject Democratic attacks on Bush. Those attacks included a news

conference last week in which MacKay questioned some of Bush's

business dealings.

This week's poll also showed U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida,

continuing to hold a huge lead over his Republican challenger,

state Sen. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg. Graham leads 59

percent to 30 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

URBAN BATTLEGROUND: Incumbency has its advantages. Just ask

MacKay.

Tangled in a debate with Bush over who would do more for inner

cities, MacKay put on his lieutenant governor's hat yesterday to

announce a $3 million program aimed at helping minorities start

businesses.

The federally funded program, which will be administered by

Florida A&M University, targets 19 cities including

Jacksonville. Labor Secretary Doug Jamerson said the program

will offer training in such things as financial planning and

budgeting and will help businesspeople find financial backing. …

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