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Crist, Harris win GOP nominations

Attorney General Charlie Crist won the Republican nomination Tuesday to replace Gov. Jeb Bush, defeating Tom Gallagher with personal charm and a campaign that appealed to a broad electorate.

With 53 percent of precincts reporting, Crist had 63.5 percent of the vote, compared to 33.9 percent for Gallagher.

A loud roar went up in Crist’s hotel suite as he told family and supporters The Associated Press called the race. He will face the Democratic nominee, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis or state Sen. Rod Smith, in the November general election.

“I am enormously grateful to the people of Florida. It’s wonderful, wonderful news,” Crist said. “We have to work that much harder. It’s just the first half, and there’s a long way to go.”

As of press time, Davis held a narrow lead over Smith in the Democratic gubernatorial primary with nearly three quarters of the precincts reporting.

Davis had 46.3 percent of the votes with 74 percent of the precincts reporting, while Smith had 41.7 percent. Three political unknowns on the ballot split the remainder of the votes. “We’re closing the gap. We’re excited,” said Smith’s wife, DeeDee. “I feel like we’re going to win this.”

Katherine Harris overcame opposition from her own party to cruise to a convincing yet expected win in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat, moving on to a tougher race against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the general election.

With 52 percent of precincts reporting, the 49-year-old Sarasota congresswoman had 50 percent of the vote to beat three political novices who jumped into the race on the last day of qualifying in May. Windermere attorney William McBride had 30 percent of the vote.

The other primary candidates were retired Navy admiral LeRoy Collins, who had about 15 percent, and Pinellas County developer Peter Monroe, who had about 5 percent. Collins’ spokesman, Chris Ingram, said the campaign would call Harris to concede. But Collins said he didn’t know if he would support Harris in November.

About 100 supporters partied at Harris’ Tampa campaign headquarters, waiting for the candidate to arrive late Tuesday.

Senate President Tom Lee won the Republican nomination for chief financial officer, setting up a November race with Democrat Alex Sink.

With 55 percent of the precincts counted, Lee had 57 percent of the vote compared to state Rep. Randy Johnson’s 36.8 percent.

State Sen. Skip Campbell easily won the Democratic nomination for attorney general over a little-known lawyer who did not campaign and raised almost no money.

Campbell, a Tamarac Democrat, will face Republican Bill McCollum in the Nov. 7 general election.