LAKE WORTH, Fla. — After the 2000 election was virtually
decided in the Supreme Court, Democrats who believed President
Bush’s win was undeserved seemed uniformly outraged. But
following Bush’s comfortable re-election Tuesday, Democrats
in Florida varied in their reactions to an outcome that few would
call illegitimate.

Jennifer Carella, a John Kerry voter from West Palm Beach, said
she was surprised and disappointed by the election’s results
— but also relieved to see a clear result.

‘“It was just so crazy last time, I was embarrassed
to be a Floridian,” she said, referring to Florida’s
contested presidential election in 2000 that took weeks to produce
a winner. “So I’m glad this time at least we knew right
away.”

Donell Gomez, a Republican from West Palm Beach, also found
relief in the ample margin of victory and the lack of major
problems in her state.

“Four years ago, everybody looked down on the
state,” she said. “I have family in other states, and I
heard it from everybody: ‘Oh, people down there don’t
know how to vote.’ ”

Responding to the overarching message in both Bush’s
victory speech and Kerry’s concession speech — a vow to
unite the country and heal the partisan divide — most voters
expressed hope that the mostly unquestioned election result would
help to reduce the animosity many Democrats felt after 2000, when
they considered Bush’s victory illegitimate.

“I think people will accept it more,” Carella said.
“There was a feeling last time that (Bush) stole it, or that
what happened was unfair … but it seems like now he won by
so much.”

Democrats and Republicans were still split, however, on each
party’s responsibilities in healing the political divide.
While most voters and activists on each side said they hoped for
bipartisanship, none were eager to make concessions to the other
party.

“It’s going to depend on how Republicans act,”
said Carol Ann Loehndorf, chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic
Party. “Are they going to put out a hand and say
‘Let’s work together,’ or are they going to keep
throwing stones?”

Hunter Williams, chair of the College Republicans at the
University of Florida, said the only way bipartisanship can be
revived is if Democrats “move on past their hatred of the
president.”

“I think it’s funny that the day after George W.
Bush wins the election by over 3 million votes, the first thing
these Democrats say is, ‘Well, give us something,’
“ Williams said. “Let’s talk about our agenda
— you’re the ones who lost.”

Some Democrats, however, seemed to have given up entirely on
bipartisanship. Sean Selvig, president of the College Democrats at
Florida State University, said the result of Tuesday’s
election would only radicalize his group.

“When Bush got re-elected, it really made it seem like
America supports what he’s doing. We don’t want the
terrorists, or whoever it is, to think that and take it out on
us,” Selvig said. “We’re going to be more active
than ever before in expressing dissent.

“Before, we had to be careful to appeal to middle-ground
voters and all that, but I think now we’re going to say what
we’ve been wanting to say all along. Sometimes America just
does the wrong thing.”

Selvig contested the notion that Bush’s re-election was
legitimate, pointing to problems with absentee and provisional
ballots. But whether or not the election was fair is not
necessarily important, he said.

“Let’s say Bush did win this legitimately,” he
said. “We are going to actively pursue his impeachment and
indictment. … We’re going to do everything in our
power to see that he doesn’t finish his term.”

Williams said he welcomed such a reaction from Democrats.

“If the Democratic Party wants to take the Howard Dean
route, please, by all means do that,” he said. “The
American people have spoken on that, and they rejected
it.”

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