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Reno Concedes Defeat in Florida Election

Reno told supporters at a news conference, ”As a candidate I have put the election behind me.”

Reno said she would shift her full support to her former opponent, Tampa attorney Bill McBride, who won by an estimated 4,800 votes, according to tallies in two South Florida counties.

“I want to do everything I can to see him elected,” she said.

The state is expected to officially certify the election results on Wednesday. Election-day foul-ups in Broward and Miami-Dade counties had caused Reno’s campaign to cast doubt on the accuracy of the count and to delay a concession. Some of the same problems that plagued the 2000 presidential election in Florida resurfaced during this year’s primary.

Governor Jeb Bush has said his promise to correct previous voting problems was largely fulfilled, since 65 of Florida’s 67 counties reported few problems on election day.

In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, however, voters reported cases of polls opening late, malfunctioning ballot machines and poorly trained poll workers. In some cases workers didn’t know how to operate new ballot machines that were purchased in order to avoid voter confusion.

Reno said Bush had been given “two shots” at running an election and had failed both times. She said she will file lawsuits to ensure that voters’ rights are protected. Bush has maintained that county supervisors are ultimately responsible for running smooth elections.

Meanwhile, McBride is already preparing to challenge Bush in the general election in November. The vote count dispute between Democrats was seen as boon for Bush who had been weakened by scandals in the state’s child welfare system.

The Bush campaign would likely have preferred to face Reno in the general election, analysts say, betting that the former Clinton cabinet member would be a less formidable candidate than the largely unknown, but fast-moving McBride.

In a rare move, the Bush camp ran ads critical of McBride before the primary election in an attempt to sway Democratic voters. Bush offered his congratulations to McBride on Tuesday, adding that he looks forward to the upcoming contest.

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