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Reno concedes Florida primary race

Democrat blasts Gov. Bush for voting problems

Reno concedes
Reno concedes  

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Settling another bungled election in Florida, Janet Reno threw in the towel Tuesday in her bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, clearing the way for Tampa attorney Bill McBride to face Republican incumbent Jeb Bush this fall.

"Bill McBride is the Democratic nominee for the governor of the state of Florida, and I congratulate him," Reno, the U.S. attorney general under President Clinton, announced at a news conference at her campaign headquarters. "I urge everybody to support him, because I think this is going to be one of the most critical elections in Florida's history."

Reno's concession comes one week after the primary, marred by problems with electronic voting machines and claims that some votes had not been counted. The episode was reminiscent of the 2000 Election Day debacle in Florida between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

A final, but still unofficial, vote tally released Tuesday afternoon confirmed that McBride won the Democratic nomination to challenge Jeb Bush in November.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno concedes the Florida Democratic primary race to Tampa attorney Bill McBride (September 17)

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Reno said she accepted her loss, declaring that McBride won "fair and square," but she vowed to file lawsuits to get to the bottom of "what happened" last week when some voting machines broke down and some voters had to wait in line for hours to cast their ballots.

In her concession speech, Reno took a jab at Gov. Bush, saying he had failed to correct voting problems over the past two years, and she pledged to work with McBride on that and other issues.

"I look forward to working with him to figuring out how we assure the people of Florida just, fair, timely and accurate elections," Reno said. "The present governor of Florida has had two shots at it now, and he's not met either opportunity."

At a separate news conference, the governor congratulated McBride on his victory and said he looked forward to a "good campaign" this fall. But he challenged McBride to lay out a specific agenda.

"Vague promises isn't going to cut it in the general election," Bush said.

McBride came out roughly 4,800 votes ahead of Reno as election officials in Miami-Dade, Broward and other counties finished their vote recounts exactly one week after the September 10 primary.

Reno gained a total of 3,400 votes in final recounts, but that number fell short of the total she needed to erase the 8,196-vote margin McBride held after last week's preliminary tally.

About 1.3 million votes were cast in the three-way Democratic primary. The Florida secretary of state is expected to certify the primary election results Wednesday.

Political Editor John Mercurio contributed to this report from Washington.




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