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    State of Play
    Arizona: New Governor,
    Better Polls

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Jan. 30, 1998

    Half of all Arizonans would elect new Gov. Jane Hull (R) to a full term if the election were held today. Hull moved into the executive mansion in September following the investigation, trial and eventual resignation of former Gov. Fife Symington (R). Hull carries the high ratings into her first legislative term.

    Hull may also make news by naming a Democrat to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court despite the fact that two nominees are Republican. The move would be unlikely to hurt her among the GOP party faithful, insiders say, because party affiliation is not considered a key factor when choosing Arizona Supreme Court justices. Legislative Republicans said politics matters more in appointments to such boards as the Arizona Board of Regents.

    More State Political News From:
    Arkansas | California | Florida | Iowa | Louisiana | Maine
    Maryland | Mississippi | Oklahoma | Tennessee | Texas

    Arkansas: Soft on Crime?

    ARDemocrats launched a six-week television ad campaign in mid-January characterizing Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as soft on crime. The ad focuses on Huckabee's clemency for castrated rapist Wayne Dumond as well as parole decisions for drug and murder convicts. The ads were criticized by some as coming too early to be effective and, perhaps, a waste of money. Democrats said they initiated early television attacks because of poll results completed for Sen. Mike Beebe (D) showing Huckabee's approval ratings fell when voters were informed of details about his record.

    California: Feinstein Fallout

    CAFollowing U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D) decision not to run for governor, Lt. Gov. Gray Davis (D) has picked up endorsements from groups expected to support Feinstein – including the influential California Teachers Association. Davis's rank has risen suddenly among traditional Democratic interest groups, largely because his main rival, millionaire Al Checchi (D), has alienated the state's unions. The union support of Davis won't hurt Checchi financially because of his virtually unlimited personal financial resources. But it will help Davis in grassroots efforts, as unions and party groups have a substantial volunteer base that Checchi won't be able to assemble.

    The Feinstein decision also elevates Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren (R) to front runner status as the successor to Gov. Pete Wilson (R). Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta (D) remains a wild card in the race, although it is unclear whether the sex scandal involving President Clinton will effect Panetta's decision.

    Florida: Logan Dispute Simmers

    FLGov. Lawton Chiles (D) has been calling black legislators to try to resolve the apparently racial implications of the dispute over the ouster of Rep. Willie Logan (D) as speaker designate. Blacks represent about 20 to 25 percent of registered Democrats in Florida; withdrawal of their support would hurt Democratic Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay's gubernatorial campaign and could affect Democrats candidates statewide.

    The ousting of Logan sparked a racial divide in the Democratic caucus and has grown into a party dilemma. Logan was the first black lawmaker to be on the threshold of becoming House speaker. But he was removed by House Democrats and replaced by Rep. Ann MacKenzie (D), who is white, amidst charges that fundraising and caucus campaign activities were left undone. Lt. Gov. MacKay, hoping to diffuse the issue, scheduled a meeting with black lawmakers. But the black caucus postponed the meeting hours before it was set to begin. However, the black caucus did find time to meet with Republican Speaker Daniel Webster, who told caucus members he hoped to build partnerships for their support.

    Iowa: Lightfoot leads GOP Money Race

    IAFormer U.S. Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot (R) is winning the GOP gubernatorial fundraising race, but has already spent nearly two-thirds of his $600,000. Endorsed by 55 of the 81 GOP legislators, Lightfoot is raising money easily. But he's getting another kind of attention for failing to show up at candidate forums. One GOP contender, David Oman (R), has criticized Lightfoot for missing several forums. Oman has compared Lightfoot's absence to the popular children's books "Where's Waldo?" – picking up the campaign banner of "Where's Jim Ross?" Lightfoot's campaign states it has attended numerous forums with GOP contenders Oman, Joy Corning (R) and Secretary of State Paul Pate (R).

    Louisiana: Governor Surrenders Salary

    LAHonoring a campaign promise, Gov. Mike Foster ( R ) will donate his $95,000-a-year salary to make grants to teachers "who are able to develop a working-values program in the schools." The governor promised during 1995 to give up his salary if he didn't get teacher pay to the southern average within two years of taking office. Foster's two-year anniversary as governor fell the first week in January. Teachers are still far short of the southern average in pay.

    Maine: King is Still King

    MENo serious, credible candidates have emerged from either party to run against Independent Gov. Angus King. Little money is being raised by anyone – including King, which many Maine political observers find odd. Both parties have expressed private worries – probably exaggerated – about capturing 5 percent of the vote in November – the minimum total required to exist as a legally recognized political party. While King enjoys high approval ratings, his winning margin must exceed 90 percent to threaten the parties' essential 5 percent. Such a margin is unlikely.

    Maryland: Glendening Ratings Tumble

    MDDespite a booming economy and a drop in violent crime, Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening's statewide approval ratings continue to lag. Recent polls show the governor and likely Republican nominee Ellen Sauerbrey in a dead heat. Glendening narrowly defeated Sauerbrey in 1994.

    Glending is looking for a campaign boost from Baltimore, the state's richest core of dependable Democratic votes. But he must mount significant rebuilding. His 1994 allies are either in another camp or on the sidelines. Former Glendening ally Sen. Young was expelled from the Senate on ethics charges last week, angering many black constituent groups and black voters. And Larry Gibson, a veteran political organizer, is working for Eileen Rehrmann, a Glendening Democratic primary opponent. Mayor Kurt Schmoke (D) is upset over Glendening's staunch opposition to legalizing slot machines and is supporting no Democratic candidate at this time. Sources say Schmoke will likely endorse Glendening eventually, but perhaps with little enthusiasm.

    Mississippi: Desperately Seeking a Candidate

    MSMany Republicans, desperate for a gubernatorial candidate, hope U.S. Rep. Mike Parker's (R) decision not to seek re-election to Congress this fall will vault him to the front of the GOP nomination race. But Parker says he's leaving Congress to spend more time with his family. His comments may be sincere: Political insiders suggest that Parker would not have given up the fundraising advantages of a congressman if his gubernatorial interests were sincere. But Parker has taken unconventional steps in the past.

    Oklahoma: Keating keeps moving

    OKGov. Keating (R) is everywhere of late and has significantly stepped up his public appearance schedule. He also has broken a state record by raising more than $1.3 million in an off-election year. Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate Rep. Laura Boyd (D) continues to maintain a busy schedule but isn't raising competitive amounts of money. Rep. Jim Hager (D), another contender, has been virtually invisible.

    Tennessee: Paying gubernatorial tribute

    TNLegislative Democrats, still without an identifiable philosophy or a candidate for governor to bring voters out later this year, showed their respect for Gov. Don Sundquist (R) and his $5 million war chest. They are backing a $40,000 pay raise for the governor, to take effect next year, and appear to be supporting the governor's few priorities, including charter schools.

    Texas: Bush Sets Money Records

    TXGov. George W. Bush (R) set a six-month fund-raising record – raising nearly $8 million in that time frame. The hefty figure far outdistances his Democratic challenger, Garry Mauro, who raised $804,000 during the same period. In fact, Bush's $1 million in out-of-state contributions out-paced Mauro's total. Bush has nearly $13 million for his campaign after paying expenses, while Mauro has a little more than $200,000 on hand.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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