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Same-sex marriage
foe defeated in Florida GOP gubernatorial primary

Same-sex marriage
foe defeated in Florida GOP gubernatorial primary

Florida attorney general Charlie Crist won the Republican nomination Tuesday to replace Gov. Jeb Bush, soundly defeating state chief financial officer Tom Gallagher, a same-sex marriage foe. With 53% of precincts reporting, Crist had 63.5% of the vote, compared with 33.9% for Gallagher. A loud roar went up in Crist's hotel suite as he told family and supporters that the Associated Press had called the race. He will face the Democratic nominee, U.S. representative Jim Davis or state senator 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." Crist ran as someone who champions consumer causes and Jeb Bush's policies, at least when it comes to crime, taxes, and education. But he wasn't afraid to step out of line with the governor on some issues. He questioned Bush's decision to intervene in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case and said that he won't try to change the class size limits that the governor tried and failed to put back on the ballot. "All I want to be is the people's governor, and they should rest assured that if they elect me in November, no one will fight harder for the people than Charlie Crist," he said. "This is a time when we need all of Florida to come together--Republicans, Democrats, and independents." Gallagher lost despite positioning himself to come across almost exactly the same as Bush all the way down the line, abandoning a more moderate stance on social issues from the last time he ran for governor in favor of far-right positions opposing all abortions, same-sex marriage, adoption by gays, and stem cell research. He also promised to outlaw billboards for adult businesses like strip clubs. "Charlie has run a great race against a formidable opponent and will be an excellent candidate in the general election. I look forward to campaigning hard for his election," Bush said. At the Crist victory party at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, supporters were hugging and shaking hands as rock music blared. It was a different scene at the Wyndham Grand Bay in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood, where Gallagher supporters turned off the television as results came in. Instead, they showed slides of Gallagher campaigning. At one point a small group of supporters brought out a laptop to check returns but quickly put it away. Both candidates raised a lot of money for the race, with Crist taking in almost $13.9 million compared with $9.2 million for Gallagher. (Melissa Nelson, AP)

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