Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ireland Forges on with 'Red Shoe' Campaign

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ireland Forges on with 'Red Shoe' Campaign

Article excerpt

Jilted by Republican Party leaders, Tim Ireland knows he's an underdog in the battle to become Florida's treasurer and insurance commissioner.

But sporting red high-top Converse sneakers and traveling in a recreational vehicle dubbed the "Shoestring Express," Ireland said yesterday he will push forward with trying to beat front-runner Tom Gallagher in the Sept. 5 primary.

Ireland held his first Capitol news conference since Gov. Jeb Bush and state GOP Chairman Al Cardenas engineered a move last month that pushed Gallagher out of a U.S. Senate race and into the campaign for treasurer and insurance commis- sioner.

Ireland, who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for the Cabinet post in 1994 and 1998, said the move by Bush and Cardenas has made it difficult for him to raise money. But he hopes to turn that against Gallagher, saying voters don't want elections decided by party-boss maneuvering.

"What has happened in the last couple of weeks is a sad day for our party," Ireland said.

Ireland said yesterday he would try to beat the better-known Gallagher with an offbeat campaign that he describes as "Charles Kuralt meets MTV." He plans to drive his leased, $3,000-a-month RV throughout the state and wear his $24.99 high tops wherever he goes -- even when he wears suits.

Ireland also said he plans to run a more positive race than his nasty 1998 campaign against Democrat Bill Nelson. During that race, Ireland supporters made numerous attacks against Nelson, including an accusation that he was insensitive to Holocaust victims.

"I have met with Bill Nelson," said Ireland, a former Southwest Florida lawmaker who now lives outside Tallahassee. "I have apologized to Bill Nelson a year and a half ago."

Bush and Cardenas convinced Gallagher to leave the Senate race because of what was expected to be a brutal and expensive primary against U. …

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