Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Primary Day

It’s Primary Day here in Florida. The ballot is really packed with seven Republicans and four Democrats running for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham. Mel Martinez, former HUD secretary in the current Bush administration, is in a tough battle with former US Rep. Bill McCollum, who was an impeachment manager against Clinton in 1999 and who lost in the last Senate election to Bill Nelson in 2000. It’s gotten nasty.

The Martinez campaign had earlier circulated a flier accusing Mr. McCollum of pandering to the “radical homosexual lobby” by co-sponsoring a failed hate-crimes bill that would encompass crimes based on the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or disability. It also coordinated an attack on Mr. McCollum by leaders of several conservative groups, who criticized him for his support of the hate-crimes bill and expanded stem cell research.

The St. Petersburg Times went so far on Monday as to rescind its endorsement of Mr. Martinez, accusing him of bigotry and of “hateful and dishonest attacks” on Mr. McCollum. “No matter what else Martinez may accomplish in public life,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial, “his reputation will be forever tainted by his campaign’s nasty and ludicrous slurs of McCollum in the final days of this race.” [New York Times]

It seems somewhat dangerous to be running in a state as diverse as Florida as the more right-wing whackjob and expect to win in the general.

On the Democratic side, the front runners are Betty Castor, the former state education commissioner and university president, and US Rep. Peter Deutsch. Castor is the more moderate of the two – Deutsch is running ads showing him being endorsed by Michael Moore – and while the campaign hasn’t gotten as mean as the Republican race, it’s not without its fireworks; Deutsch accused Castor of coddling terrorists when she was running USF because she didn’t immediately fire a professor who expressed sympathy for the Palestinians.

Anyway, if you’re in Florida, be sure to vote – and make sure you do it correctly!