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In N.C., Bowles to Face Dole in Senate Race

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 10, 2002; 10:38 p.m.

Erskine Bowles, who was one of Bill Clinton's four White House chiefs of staff, won the North Carolina Democratic nomination for Senate today and will battle Elizabeth H. Dole in November for the seat being vacated by Jesse Helms (R).

In the closely watched New Hampshire GOP primary for U.S. Senate, incumbent Robert C. Smith was trailing Rep. John E. Sununu. With more than half the state's precincts reporting, Sununu had 53 percent of the vote, and Smith had 46 percent. The winner will face Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in a Nov. 5 showdown that will help determine whether Democrats can hold - or perhaps widen - their slim advantage in the Senate.

In another important primary state, Florida, polling-place confusion and errors forced polls to stay open late, promising a long night for those locked in tight races. With a third of the precincts reporting, Tampa lawyer William McBride was leading former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The winner will face Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in November.

Bowles, a successful Wall Street investor who divided time between Charlotte and New York, outpolled eight other Democratic hopefuls, including state legislator Dan Blue of Raleigh and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. With three-fourths of the precincts reporting, Bowles had 45 percent of the vote, while Blue had 29 percent and Marshall had 15 percent.

In the GOP primary, Dole coasted to victory, holding on to several million dollars to spend on the race against Bowles.

The general election will pit a veteran politician against a first-time candidate from a prominent political family. Dole served as secretary of transportation and secretary of labor under Republican presidents, and later played a prominent role in the 1996 presidential bid of her husband, Robert J. Dole, the Republican nominee who fell to Clinton. She made a brief run at the presidency herself in 1999, but quickly gave way to George W. Bush.

In New Hampshire, the GOP senatorial battle has been long and bitter. It's rare for a party to deny renomination to an incumbent, but analysts say Smith, 61, brought many problems on himself. Smith abandoned the party in 1999 to make a short-lived presidential bid as an independent. In a speech on the Senate floor, he angrily accused the party of straying from its conservative roots.

The senator eventually returned to the GOP fold, but many party activists seethed over his actions. The Bush White House did little to hide its support of Sununu, whose father had been a New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff to president George H.W. Bush.

In Florida, where Democrats held a spirited primary for governor, voting was marred by the sorts of polling-place confusion and mistakes that marked the state's infamous 2000 Election Day breakdowns, which kept the presidential outcome in doubt for weeks.

Gov. Bush ordered polls to remain open late after widespread reports of delays and confusion in communities throughout the state. Some election workers had trouble operating new touchscreen voting machines, while others couldn't get ballots to scan, the Associated Press reported. Reno was delayed in voting in Miami, as poll workers struggled with a new machine. She had requested a court order to extend polling in four large urban counties where some of the worst of the problems were reported.

In one precinct in a predominantly black Miami neighborhood, voting didn't begin until 11:45 a.m., nearly five hours after polls opened, the AP reported. Officials estimated about 500 people left the precinct without voting.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company


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