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Gov. Bush Confident in Fla. Race

November 6, 2002

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Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida took a congratulatory call from his brother President Bush as early returns Tuesday showed the Republican ahead in his campaign against Democrat Bill McBride.

In all, 36 states elected governors, with Democrats aiming to reclaim the majority of executive mansions they lost eight years ago and Republicans hoping to minimize the shrinking of their 27-21 edge.

In a marquee race, Gov. Bush had extensive campaign help from his brother. The president called to ``congratulate him for a big victory,″ White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. With half the precincts reporting, Bush was ahead with 58 percent of the votes to McBride’s 41 percent.

Another top race was in Maryland, where Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend _ seeking to become the first member of the Kennedy family to serve as a governor _ saw a huge early lead evaporate into a close race with Republican Rep. Bob Ehrlich.

Early returns in Illinois showed Democrat Rod Blagojevich, hoping to break the GOP’s 25-year grip on the governor’s office, leading Republican Jim Ryan.

The first results also showed Republican entrepreneur Craig Benson ahead in the race for New Hampshire’s open seat, and Ohio GOP Gov. Bob Taft out front in his bid for a second term. Republicans predicted victory in both contests.

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