Reno, 62, scoffs at age as issue.

Reno, 62, scoffs at age as issue, but won't tip hand on candidacy

By Brian E. Crowley, Palm Beach Post Political Editor Thursday, July 12, 2001

BOCA RATON -- While some senior members of the Democratic Party have said they will not run for governor because it is time for a younger generation to step up, 62-year-old Janet Reno scoffed at that notion Wednesday.

Reno spent most of the day in Palm Beach County meeting with community leaders from western Boca Raton as well as County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, county Democratic Party Chairman Monte Friedkin and other political leaders.

Her first appearance was at 7:30 a.m. with folks from western Boca. Reno spoke for nearly 30 minutes and then answered about a dozen questions. After the speech, the former U.S. attorney general met with reporters.

During that meeting, she was asked about a statement U.S. Sen. Bob Graham made when he announced this year that he would not run for governor. Graham, 64, said he ran for governor when he was 42, and someone around that age should run to help bring on a new generation of political leadership.

Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who will be 60 next year, recently echoed that sentiment. Neither man has suggested that Reno or anyone else her age should not run for governor.

Both said they were simply reflecting on their own political ambitions. Other Democrats note that the late Lawton Chiles was 60 when he ran for governor.

"There is a tendency to serve in public life and then at some point to say that it is up to somebody else," said Reno, who suggested she is far from reaching that point. "I want to use the knowledge that I have gained, whether it is in public service or some other way, to help the people of Florida."

After more than 15 years as Dade County state attorney and eight years as U.S. attorney general, Reno said, "nobody has as much administrative experience" among the potential candidates for governor.

Three Democrats filed papers this month to open campaign accounts -- House Minority Leader Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami and Tampa attorney Bill McBride.

Reno, who is traveling the state to explore the possibility of running for governor, said she has "made progress" toward a decision but would not say which way she is leaning.

Other potential candidates include U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox and Ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson, who is leaving that post this month.