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September 18, 2002 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-18

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 7

Reno concedes Florida

gubernatorh
MIAMI (AP) - Janet Reno conceded the Democratic
nomination for governor to Bill McBride yesterday - a full
week after Florida's bungled primary - after final vote
counts showed him narrowly defeating the former attorney
general.
The final but still unofficial count had the Tampa lawyer
and political newcomer winning by about 4,800 votes out of
more than 1.3 million cast. McBride will face Republican
*; Gov. Jeb Bush in November.
Reno conceded yesterday afternoon. She said she told
McBride "he was going to be a great governor."
"I want to do everything that I possibly can to see that he
gets elected," she said.
McBride had claimed victory Thursday, two days after
one of the closest elections in Florida history. Reno gained a
net total of 3,400 votes in final counts released yesterday by
Miami-Dade, Broward and other counties - not enough to
erase the 8,196-vote margin McBride held after last week's
preliminary tally.
The results will be certified by the state today.
The balloting Sept. 10 was marked by equipment glitches
and human errors that brought back memories of the 2000
White House race.
The problems happened despite a $32 million overhaul of
Florida's election system that included the installation of
touchscreen voting machines.
Reno said yesterday she plans to make election reform
her crusade in the coming months even as she campaighs
for McBride. She said she will not sue to force a recount or
otherwise challenge the results, though she said she could
file a lawsuit on the voting process if that would advance
her reform push.
"The current governor of Florida has had two shots at it
now and has not met either opportunity," she said.
Bush, meanwhile, said he was "delighted" that it
appeared his Democratic opponent has been finally decided.
"For a year there have been three opponents that have
been banging on my head and saying ugly things about me,
not being very specific about what they would do different-
ly," the governor said. "Now there will be one, and I'm look-
ing forward to it."
With the nomination secured, McBride settled on state
Sen. Tom Rossin of Royal Palm Beach as his running mate,

LI pnmary
sources close to the campaign said Tuesday. Rossin, 69, is
the Senate's Democratic leader. He broadens the ticket's
geographic appeal and boasts seven years of legislative
experience, an asset for McBride, who has never held elec-
tive office.
In a statement after Reno's speech, McBride said he was
proud that the primary campaign had been void of personal
attacks.
"That contrasts sharply, of course, with the negative
attacks of Jeb Bush," he said, referring to television ads by
the Florida GOP attacking McBride's management when he
headed the state's largest law firm.
McBride's lead in the preliminary returns last week was
larger than the half-a-percentage point margin necessary to
trigger an automatic recount.
The gap shrank to less than that when the final figures
came in. But by then it was too late under the law for Reno
to ask for a recount.
The unofficial final totals showed McBride with 602,352
votes, or 44.38 percent; Reno with 597,558, or 44.03' per-
cent; and state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami with 157,107, or
11.57 percent.
Over the past week, about 7,500 votes in Miami-Dade
County and about 1,100 in Broward County were found to
have been uncounted in the hours after the polls closed.
There also were complaints of machines malfunctioning,
polls opening several hours late, others closing early and
voters being sent to the wrong precincts.
Reno wasn't the only Democrat to point the finger at
Bush for the foulups. Former Vice President Al Gore, who
came out on the short end of the 2000 recount, also blamed
the governor during a visit to Miami on Tuesday. ,
"It's ironic that another election foul-up under his lead-
ership occurred in the very next election after he promised
to fix it," Gore said. "I'm sure you'll see a lot of fancy
efforts to talk his way out of that and blame everybody else
he can."
The governor has insisted that the problems were caused
by Broward and Miami-Dade election officials.
"I'm confident that 65 of the 67 counties that got it right
in September will get it right in November, and we're going
to demand that the two counties that didn't get it right do
so," he said yesterday.

Norton may appeal ruling
finding her in contempt

WASHINGTON (AP) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton
said she may appeal a judge's decision holding her in con-
tempt of court for failing to fix her department's misman-
agement of hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties from
Indian land.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled yesterday that
Norton not only failed to comply with his order to account
for the money in the Indian accounts but committed fraud
by misrepresenting the department's efforts to repair the
trust and protect Indian money.
"In my 15 years on the bench, I have never seen a litigant
n*e such,4 concerted ;effort to subvert the truth-seeking
function of the judicial process," Lamberth wrote. "The
Department of Interior is truly an embarrassment to the fed-
eral government in general and the executive branch in par-
ticular."
Norton said the ruling deals mostly with events that
occurred before the Bush administration, and she has devot-
ed more energy to fixing the management of Indian money
than any other project.
Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, who
led a group of Indians in suing the department in 1996 for

squandering Indian money, praised Lamberth's ruling and
said it should serve as a warning to Norton and her depart-
ment.
"I prayed every day that this opinion would serve justice
to the individual Indian beneficiaries. the ones who have
been hurting for so long,".Cobell said. "We are on the road
to justice, and I'm happy for this opinion."
Norton is the third Cabinet officer that Lamberth has held
in contempt over the trust fund. Former President Clinton's
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary
Robert Rubin were found in contempt in 1999.
The government acknowledges major problems with the
trust fund. The Interior Department has spent more than $600
million since 1996 to comply with instructions from both
Congress and Lamberth, but accounting problems persist.
In December the judge shut down most of the Interior
Department's Internet connections because he said the
agency could not ensure hackers wouldn't break in and steal
money.
During a 29-day trial that ended in late February, Norton
asked Lamberth for more time to make fixes. Lamberth was
unmoved.

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