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Bird kicks off campaign against Atwater

After a bit of a false start, the Democratic campaign against incumbent state Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, is beginning anew with a campaign kick-off party on Thursday night in Fort Lauderdale.

The kick-off party for Linda Bird, a Broward activist and real estate agent who officially qualified for the race last week, will be held at L'Hermitage, a prominent condo tower inside the coastal district that stretches from Broward to Palm Beach County.

In attendance, according to the invitation: state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, and the race's former Democratic challenger Walter "Skip" Campbell. Campbell's much-talked-about departure from the high-profile state Senate campaign catapulted Bird into the race earlier this month.

But Bird has a tough (some say an impossible) road ahead of her. While rumors about Campbell's candidacy and a possible replacement candidate circulated, Atwater, the incoming Senate president, was extending his substantial fundraising lead.

The Republican senator has raised about $313,000 since the beginning of April, according to campaign finance reports released last week. And although that total pales in comparison to previous quarters, it still leaves Atwater with a campaign war chest of about $1.9 million -- by far the biggest in the Legislature.

And Atwater has well over $2 million in his coffers when you add in the money raised by his political organization, Preserve the American Dream.

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