Bush defeats McBride in Florida governor's race, CNN projects
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Republican Gov. Jeb Bush defeated Democratic challenger Bill McBride on Tuesday in a race on the battleground of the long-contested 2000 presidential election, CNN projected.
Democrats badly wanted to beat Bush, the brother of President Bush, and embarrass the White House in the state that -- after much wrangling -- put the president over the top in the 2000 race.
President Bush has visited the state 12 times since taking office. Democrats brought in former President Bill Clinton to campaign for McBride in South Florida in the days before Election Day.
Jeb Bush was relatively popular going into the election and was well-funded. McBride, a Tampa attorney, scored a significant upset when he narrowly beat former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in the Democratic primary. Reno and a third primary candidate, state Sen. Daryl Jones, attended a unity rally after the primary and expressed solidarity behind McBride.
McBride hit Bush over failing schools and a flawed child-services agency, and accused him of having done little to repair the state's voting system, pointing to troubles with the primary September 10 in South Florida.
Bush hit back swiftly, calling voting problems in Miami/Dade and Broward counties a "local concern" outside of his control. Democrats run both localities.