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Politicos, Fans Break for Game

November 19, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ With America’s presidency on hold, Florida judges, politicians and some who couldn’t care less about it all partied together before third-ranked Florida State and No. 4 Florida tried to settle another contest Saturday night.

``Half the state’s going to be happy and half the state’s not going to be happy just like the football game tonight,″ Florida State fan Fred Selancy said as he mingled with other fans in the university president’s skybox before kickoff.

For some, Saturday’s intrastate rivalry was more important than the unsettled presidential race. And unlike ballots in South Florida, there were few tickets to be found.

While Florida voters deadlocked in last week’s presidential election between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush, there was one man who could beat them both if the vote were taken Saturday inside Florida State’s 81,000-seat football palace: Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden.

``I’m a big Gore man, but I’d support Bobby Bowden over just about anybody I could think of,″ said Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox.

The jokes were everywhere, some football, some political. Don’t worry, fans would say: If the game ends it a tie, just keep counting.

``I don’t think there will be any recount in the end zone,″ Maddox said.

His buddy, Green Acres Mayor Sam Ferreri _ wearing an orange-and-blue Gator jacket _ said he was glad to be out of Palm Beach County to witness his 41st straight game between the Seminoles and the Florida Gators.

``We’re about five feet from ground zero down there,″ Ferreri said. ``It’s tough. We’ve got neighbors arguing over who they voted for or whether their vote is going to count or not.″

Maddox hopes the election intrigue lasts a while.

``It’s good for our city,″ he said. ``It’s brought between $7 million and $9 million to our economy, the election controversy as well as the game.″

Florida State president Talbot ``Sandy″ D’Alemberte, a former state lawmaker, also was thinking more about an outcome of the game.

A win, and potential Orange Bowl appearance for the national title, had about $16 million riding on the Seminoles’ performance.

``It’s a big night,″ he said.

Bryan Fleetwood, a New Orleans security officer who safeguarded D’Alemberte during recent Sugar Bowl visits, wished the election had a deadline like college football

``On the way back to New Orleans tonight, at least I’ll know the outcome,″ Fleetwood said.

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