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Florida governor's race is only an e-mail away

January 6, 2002

If you like e-mail, you're going to love the governor's race.

The revolution may not be televised, as a songwriter once suggested, but the center-ring Florida campaign of 2002 will be waged online.

The campaign Web site, a technical novelty not too long ago, has become an integral two-way highway for candidates and voters alike.

The campaigns are collecting money from supporters online -- at, for one, Gov. Jeb Bush's campaign does take American Express.

And the campaigns are amassing e-mail addresses of both avid supporters and the just-curious whom candidates will pelt with messages in the months ahead.

Just for the record: www.renofor was the quickest last week in responding to an Internet inquirer submitting a new e-mail address:

"This election will not be easy," came a rapid e-reply from just "Janet." . . . "But I have a secret weapon -- you!"

For candidates, the e-weaponry of the Internet offers the cleanest way of delivering a detailed political message unfiltered by the media. For many voters, this will be the raw material of the governor's race.

For now, little more than platitudes are available online in a contest that will become one of the nation's closest-watched elections this year.

The bare-boned shelves of the campaign Web sites are a reflection of the nascent campaign year itself.

"I'm excited about the campaign," said Bush, anticipating "the part of being able to make my case for people and likely asking my worthy opponents to do the same, rather than giving us just vague generalities. . . . I like that."

He should talk. His campaign Web site features photos "from the road" mainly taken in Tallahassee.

But still, Bush maintains, all he has seen from the opposition so far is generalities: "I haven't seen any five-point plans out there yet."

When the five-point plans start arriving, you will find them at e-places like

That's the Web-surfer's portal for Bill McBride, the Tampa-area attorney seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. "McBride is on Your Side!" you may or may not be glad to know. Says so, online.

It's easy to find the other Democrats online, too.

State Sen. Daryl Jones, an attorney from South Miami-Dade, resides at State House Minority Leader Lois Frankel, of West Palm Beach, holds down www.lois

What's more difficult to find, for the time being, is much meaningful information about the real choices Florida's voters will face in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10 or general election on Nov. 5.

"When it comes to education, the Bush brothers are on a roll," reports the governor's Web site, citing an editorial from a newspaper commenting on new state school-testing rules and an education bill that the president won in Congress at year's end.

"Jeb's got it, but Janet's got it, too: political aura," reports Reno's Web site, citing a headline from a newspaper column likening Reno to a rock star.

Yet, at this chilly moment in January, before the campaigns heat up, this is the perfect time to e-sign up for all five candidates' e-mail lists.

"You've Got Mail," guaranteed, all summer long.

You'll have to separate all the e-chaff from the e-wheat, but you may well find a new leader who's no loaf.

by Mark Silva. Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel


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