The comeback hopes of ousted federal Judge Alcee Hastings were dashed by former newspaperman Jim Minter's victory in a Democratic runoff for secretary of state.

Hastings said he won't sink out of sight."Neither Florida nor the nation has heard the last of me," Hastings said Tuesday night. "I will continue to fight for the things I believe in."

Unofficial returns gave Minter 296,777 votes, or 67 percent, to 144,806 votes, or 33 percent, for Hastings. The runoff for the Democratic nomination was required because no candidate got 50 percent in the Sept. 4 primary.

Only about 13 percent of Florida's 5.9 million registered voters cast ballots.

Minter, who resigned as an editorial writer for the Tallahassee Democrat to enter the race, faces Republican incumbent Jim Smith in the Nov. 6 election. Florida's secretary of state supervises elections and keeps state records.

Hastings, 54, was Florida's first black federal judge when appointed in 1979. The U.S. Senate removed him from the bench last year for allegedly conspiring to obtain a $150,000 bribe, although he was acquitted in a 1983 jury trial.

Hastings said he would return to his law practice and work to elect Democrats in November. He did not rule out another bid for office. "Fate deals people some funny hands," he said. "All politicians know never to say never."