Wis. Governor Race Focuses on Stem Cells

The Associated Press
Friday, October 27, 2006; 3:26 AM

MADISON, Wis. -- Gov. Jim Doyle paints his re-election bid in stark terms: If voters choose his opponent, they will shut down stem cell research that could mean medical cures for debilitating illnesses and an economic boom for Wisconsin.

"There will be no turning back after the vote on Nov. 7," the Democratic governor warned in a recent debate against GOP Rep. Mark Green. "We need to keep Wisconsin the state where people look for hope."

Scientists in Wisconsin are pioneers in embryonic stem cell research and the state is a leading player in a nationwide debate of the moral, scientific and economic issues involved.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates in several states are hammering on the issue to pick up Republican and independent voters.

Doyle has made the fight over embryonic stem cell research a centerpiece of his campaign.

His opponent _ whom polls show within reach of winning the race _ opposes the use of tax dollars to expand the research and favors tighter restrictions on the science.

Green supports research that uses adult stem cells, pledging $25 million to study a fledgling technique in which cells are extracted without destroying embryos.

Green's stance is roughly in line with that of many Republicans who oppose embryonic stem cell research _ despite the promise it holds for curing ailments such as juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's _ because days-old embryos are destroyed in the process.

Federal policies that have restricted the science have heightened the importance of the issue for Wisconsin and other states.

President Bush vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have expanded federal research money, instead only allowing funding for stem cell lines in existence before August 2001 _ five of which were discovered at the University of Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin is definitely where it's at," said Sean Tipton, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, a pro-stem cell group. "Scientists there have been the pioneers. That adds to the potency of the issue."

The issue has become one of the defining arguments of the 2006 election season.

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