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Affirmative action foes expect Crist to keep One Florida intact

Ward Connerly, the anti affirmative action foe who once launched a ballot drive in Florida only to see his efforts struck down by the courts, declared Wednesday that he and his supporters are ready to take their battle to other states during the crucial 2008 presidential election. Connerly announced his group has opened up exploratory committees in nine states and will eventually launch a petition drive in two to five states.

But a spokeswoman for Connerly said Florida is not one of the states under consideration. Diane Schachterle of the American Civil Rights Coalition said the group feels that it does not need to come to the Sunshine State because of Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida plan, which six years ago ended racial preferences in university admissions and state contracting.

"Florida is not high on our radar right now,'' said Schachterle, who said the decision had nothing to do with the passage of Amendment 3, which requires all future constitutional amendments to pass by 60 percent. She noted an anti-affirmative action amendment in Washington State cleared that higher margin.

But Schachterle added that she hopes that Governor-elect Charlie Crist keeps intact the One Florida plan when he becomes governor. When asked about it on the campaign trail, Crist said he had no plans to alter One Florida _ whose contracting provisions were implemented by executive order.