Florida Senate Showdown
It's being overshawdowed by the GOP Convention, but Floridians went to the polls today and nominated each party's strongest candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham.
The White House's guy, former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, surprised many observers by thumping former Congressman Bill McCollum by a comfortable 45-31 margin. Martinez is a Cuban-American who will probably help the GOP get a desperately needed high turnout in that reliably Republican community; his pull among the fast-growing non-Cuban Hispanic population of Florida is more questionable. His background as a trial lawyer will also complicate Bush-Cheney campaign's loud efforts to suggest that litigation costs are the main drag on the U.S. economy.
On the Democratic side, former state education commissioner Betty Castor's win over Rep. Peter Deutsch and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Pinelas was no surprise, but her margin was impressive, beating the lavishly financed Deutsch by a 59-27 margin. Castor has long been considered the strongest possible Democratic candidate, and she's been running even with or a bit ahead of Martinez in most polls.