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Reno trails McBride; Sununu beats Smith

Dole will face Bowles in North Carolina

Reno talks with reporters Tuesday at her campaign headquarters.
Reno talks with reporters Tuesday at her campaign headquarters.  


(CNN) -- Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno trailed Tampa attorney Bill McBride late Tuesday night in her bid for Florida's Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

With about 46 percent of the precincts reporting, McBride had about 50 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for Reno and 12 percent for state Sen. Daryl Jones.

Polls were kept open an additional two hours because of problems with new voting machines. In the western Panhandle, which is in the Central Time Zone, they did not close until 10 p.m. ET.

A McBride victory would be a come-from-behind upset over the better-known Reno, who led by a large margin in polls until the last weeks of the campaign.

The winner will face Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, in November. Polls showed Bush leading both Democrats by a wide margin.

Voters in 14 other states and Washington, D.C., went to the polls Tuesday in the busiest day of primaries during this election cycle.

U.S. Sen. Bob Smith became the first sitting senator ousted in the 2002 election cycle, losing to U.S. Rep. John Sununu in the battle for New Hampshire's Republican Senate nomination.

Sununu took about 54 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Smith. He will now face Democratic Gov. Jean Shaheen in November.

Wresting away the Republican seat in New Hampshire is a key target for Democrats as they battle to keep control of the narrowly divided Senate.

In North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole, a former American Red Cross president, Cabinet secretary and 2000 GOP presidential candidate, easily won the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, carrying more than 80 percent of the primary.

Dole
Elizabeth Dole waves to supporters with her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, right, in Salisbury, North Carolina on Tuesday.  

"I've tried to serve my country all my life, but nothing matches the honor and the joy of gaining the approval of the hard-working people of North Carolina," she said in a victory speech, with her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, at her side.

"I promise a campaign to be proud of."

On the Democratic side, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles won the Democratic nomination to face Dole in the fall, besting eight other candidates.

"This race will be about the future of our state," Bowles said in his victory speech, his family surrounding him.

"It will be about which candidate, which of the two candidates remaining, is best suited to make a positive difference in the lives of North Carolina families, and I submit to each of you tonight that I am that candidate and Elizabeth Dole is not."

In Washington, Mayor Anthony Williams appeared to have kept his post with a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. He was tossed off the ballot by elections officials after many of the signatures on his nominating petitions were found to be fraudulent.

While election officials in Washington don't plan to begin counting the thousands of write-in votes until Wednesday, an exit poll by the Washington Post showed Williams beating his nearest rival, the Rev. Willie Wilson, also a write-in candidate, by a 2-to-1 margin. Election returns showed that about 90 percent of D.C. voters chose to write in a candidate.

During the campaign in New Hampshire, Smith, a two-term conservative incumbent, was dogged by his decision in 1999 to bolt the GOP and run for president as an independent.

When he left, Smith gave a 50-minute floor speech in which he said the party's commitment to supporting gun rights and opposing abortion was a "fraud."

He later returned to the Republican caucus to become chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee after the death of Sen. John Chafee, R-Rhode Island. He later lost that post when Democrats took control of the Senate.

Sununu is the son for former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, who was White House chief of staff in the first Bush administration. Polls show he would run a stronger race against Shaheen than would Smith.

In Florida, Gov. Bush ordered polls to stay open an extra two hours after many state voters experienced delays and confusion Tuesday in the first major test of new electronic voting machines.

In numerous polling places, the new touch screen machines failed to start up, and it took several hours in some locations to get them working. In one predominately black precinct in Miami, polls did not open until lunchtime; in Miami Beach, some voters waited more than 90 minutes.

Reno, who waited more than an hour to vote at her Miami-Dade precinct, later called on Bush to extend voting hours, as did Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas and Secretary of State Jim Smith.

In 2000, problems with punch-card voting systems, used in many of the state's largest counties, kept the presidential race in dispute for weeks. In response, the Florida Legislature undertook a major reform of the elections process, including replacing the punch-card machines with electronic systems.

Former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who was at the center of the 2000 controversy, was on her way to victory in the race for the Republican nomination in the 13th Congressional District, anchored in the Sarasota area, taking about two-thirds of the vote.

In other races:

  • In Maryland, state Delegate Mark Shriver, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was trying to win the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District, in suburban Washington, against three other candidates. The winner will taken on GOP Rep. Connie Morella. Also, Shriver's cousin, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, claimed the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. She is the daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
  • In Miami-Dade County, Florida, voters were deciding whether to repeal a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and employment.
  • In Georgia, state Rep. Billy McKinney, the father of controversial U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, lost in the Democratic runoff to keep the state House seat he has held for three decades. His daughter was ousted in a Democratic primary three weeks ago by former state judge Denise Majette.


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