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Bill McBride, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, husband to Alex Sink and powerhouse attorney, died Saturday according to several news reports.

He had a heart attack Saturday evening while in Mount Airy, N.C., with family, according to Sink.

McBride was born in Belleville, Illinois and grew up in Leesburg, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1967. While at UF, McBride served as treasurer of Florida Blue Key and was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame. McBride served in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971. McBride earned a Bronze Star with a Valor device. Upon his return to the United States, McBride taught at Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Upon leaving the Marine Corps, McBride attended the University of Florida Law School.

While studying law he fell under the tutelage of Chesterfield Smith, a powerful politically-connected Florida attorney and then president of the American Bar Association. McBride left law school for a time to serve as Smith's assistant at the ABA. After graduation, McBride joined Smith's Tampa law firm, Holland & Knight, where he rose in the ranks until becoming managing partner in 1992.

McBride lost the 2002 race to incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

US Senator Bill Nelson said in a statement, “Bill McBride was larger than life.  He was one of the great business, legal and political leaders of Florida, and he is a friend that many of us will miss.”


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