The Washington Times -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Janet Reno concedes primary to McBride

Published 9/17/2002

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MIAMI, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Former Attorney General Janet Reno conceded victory Tuesday to Tampa attorney Bill McBride in Florida's Democratic primary for governor after a review of Miami-Dade County's vote gave McBride a margin of nearly 5,000 votes among the nearly 1.4 million votes cast in the election a week ago.

McBride will now run against Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's younger brother, in the Nov. 5 general election. "Bill McBride is the Democratic candidate for governor in the state of Florida, and I congratulate him," Reno said.

She said she had talked to him before she made her concession speech, and, "I told him that I thought he was going to be a great governor. I want everybody to support him because this will be one of the most important elections in Florida history." When Reno was asked if this was the end of her political career, she said, "I'm sure it is."

Bush also congratulated McBride. "I want to commend Mr. McBride for his primary victory. I look forward to a good campaign for the general election," Bush said.

Officials certified the totals in the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade and sent them to Tallahassee. The new statewide total will be certified when the state canvassing board meets Wednesday morning at the state capitol.

After Reno gained 3,402 votes in south Florida, McBride won by 4,794 votes. The original count last week gave McBride an 8,196 margin. Reno said no matter how slim the margin, she would not go to court over the results, but would support McBride in his campaign against Jeb Bush.

It took five weeks to resolve the dispute over the vote count before President Bush defeated former Vice President Al Gore with the help of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the process, Florida became a national laughing stock over its inability to come up with an accurate vote count.

Millions were spent on election reform in the interim, but serious problems surfaced in south Florida. Precincts opened as much as four hours late, forcing the governor to extend voting by two hours throughout the state. Then several precincts reported no votes cast or just a handful of votes in precincts where there are hundreds of registered voters. "I feel for the people involved in this," said Gore, who visited south Florida Tuesday on a fund raising trip for the Democratic Party. "I believe if I was the governor of this state, I would have fixed it by now."

Reno said she will devote her time in the coming months to election reform, asking why Bush wasn't able to do it.

"The governor has had two shots at it now, and he has not met either opportunity," she said. "I want to see that everybody in the state of Florida has the right to vote, the right to vote in a timely way and the right to have his vote counted in an accurate and timely fashion.

She said she will do everything she can including filing lawsuits in her own name.