Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nelson Beats McCollum in Race for U.S. Senate Democrat Takes Seat Held by Mack since '88

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nelson Beats McCollum in Race for U.S. Senate Democrat Takes Seat Held by Mack since '88

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson defeated U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum yesterday to capture a U.S. Senate seat for the Democrats that the Republicans had held for 12 years.

Showing strength throughout the state and particularly in the Democratic stronghold of Southeast Florida, Nelson outdistanced a field that also included five independents and minor party candidates to become the successor to retiring Sen. Connie Mack, a Fort Myers Republican.

"Now I'm going to Washington and I'm going to stand up and fight for you in Washington," Nelson told cheering supporters at a Democratic victory party in the University Center Club at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Although networks called Nelson's victory on the basis of exit polls shortly after the polls closed in most of Florida at 7 p.m., Nelson waited until he had talked to McCollum and independent candidate Willie Logan before he claimed victory.

He said both men were gracious in their comments.

When McCollum failed to carry Orange County, the heart of his congressional district, it was apparent that it was all over for him.

"This is not the end of our fight for better government," McCollum told his supporters in Orlando. "It is just the beginning of our fight for better government."

He said he would work closely with Nelson and Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., to make sure the state's interests are protected.

"This race was never about me or my opponent, it was about principles, ideas and the people of Florida," McCollum said in a statement issued later.

Nelson told his supporters last night that civility has to be returned to politics.

He lamented the partisanship in Congress, which he said contrasted with the way Republicans and Democrats were able to work together when he served as a congressman from Melbourne in the 1980s.

"We need to come together in reconciliation," he said.

Nelson also pledged to push for fiscal discipline to use most of the budget surplus to pay down the national debt.

Logan, a Democratic state representative from Opa-locka who ran as an independent, had been seen as a possible threat to siphon off votes from Nelson but did not appear to have a significant impact. …

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