Bush vs. Gore II?

Florida newspapers are looking to the state's upcoming gubernatorial election as a rematch of the 2000 presidential race.

Published January 2, 2002 9:11PM (EST)

Yes, the new year is upon us, and in the world of Red vs. Blue, that can only mean one thing -- election time! Control of the House and the Senate are up for grabs in November, as well as governor's races in a number of key states.

No statehouse battle will be as closely watched as the fight for Florida, which may turn into a head-to-head between Gov. Jeb Bush and former Attorney General Janet Reno.

"This year Floridians will see a sequel to the 2000 presidential election that made the state the butt of chad and Flori-duh jokes on late-night talk shows," writes the Tampa Bay Tribune's William March. "The top race on the ballot, Gov. Jeb Bush's re-election campaign, is widely seen as a taste of the 2004 re-election campaign of his brother, President Bush."

Of course, some may view the race as a continuation, via proxy, of the famous election fight between President Bush and Al Gore. If Gov. Bush wins re-election, says election watcher Stuart Rothenberg, "Republicans will see it as the final stake through the heart of Clinton-Gore," while Dems are hoping for a little political payback.

Of course, any race with Reno in it is sure to get its share of attention from the Free Republic. Add the fact that the race is in Florida, against the president's brother, and you have an event guaranteed to be one of 2002's hottest online topics. If Reno and Satan were running against each other, and only posters on the Free Republic could vote, the election would be a tossup.

Reacting to news that Rosie O'Donnell was recently stumping for Reno in Florida, Free Republic poster "teacup" writes: "What a team. When Beached Rosie takes our guns away, it will be easier for Death Camp Janet to incinerate us. Liberalism must be crushed!"

"Good point," adds another poster. "WOW! Men haters, together, campaigning to get our guns, jail all white men, and take our children from us. Good team, NOT!!! Damned scary!"

The Washington Times is also looking ahead to the campaign season, with an item today charging Democrats with preparing to run against Christianity in 2002.

"Democrats, in the name of tolerance, plan to demonize conservative Christians as being like the Taliban," writes the Times' Greg Pierce. Pierce's item cited a report by Newsweek's Howard Fineman, who writes that Democrats "are planning a daring assault on the most critical turf in politics: the cultural mainstream ... The theory goes like this. Our enemy in Afghanistan is religious extremism and intolerance. It's therefore more important than ever to honor the ideals of tolerance -- religious, sexual, racial, reproductive -- at home. The GOP is out of the mainstream, some Democrats will argue [this] year, because it's too dependent upon an intolerant 'religious right.'"

Of course, John McCain tried to employ this strategy just before he crashed and burned in the 2000 Republican primaries. And once again, the campaign was endorsed by the posters at Democratic Underground.

"Good," writes one poster. "It's about time those hypocrites were taken out back and verbally bashed with a shovel. Now, let's see if the Bunnypants Dems can go through with it."

But another D.U. poster accused the conservative paper of twisting Fineman's item to try to call the right wing into action. "They make it sound like they are going after Republican Christians, not the super-intolerant fundies who want return the U.S. back to something that never was. The right wing whores of the Conservative-owned press are just twisting it to try and reinvigorate this particular group who has NOT been that active lately."

By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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