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ANOTHER BUCHANAN VICTORY U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan delivers his acceptance speech at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on Nov. 6. Contributed photo WITHOUT OBAMA COATTAILS TO HELP HIM, DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER KEITH FITZGERALD MUSTERS ONLY 46 PERCENT OF THE VOTE By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R.-Longboat Key, won a fourth term in Congress Tuesday, best- ing Democratic opponent Keith Fitzgerald 54 percent to 46 percent in the Sarasota Repub- lican's toughest re-election bid yet. Shortly after handily defending his seat amid the 2010 tea party wave, Buchanan was hit with a wave of allegations that he had illegally reimbursed car dealership employees for do- nations made to his 2006 and 2008 campaigns. The Federal Election Commission sued Sam Kazran, a former Buchanan business partner, over the reimbursements, but Kazran quickly fingered Buchanan as the one who orchestrat- ed the scheme. That move sparked a range of ethics com- plaints and investigations, as well as a heavy dose of negative headlines — leading many national Democrats to believe Fitzgerald had a real shot at unseating Buchanan this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran ads early in the campaign slamming Buchanan for his alleged misdeeds, and Fitzgerald bested Buchanan in fundrais- ing for most of the year. Buchanan eventually faced investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the Office of Congressional Ethics. While the Jus- tice Department declined to take action, the Ethics office found "substantial reason to be-

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