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    State of Play
    New Mexico: Johnson Seeking Second Term or Private Life

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Feb. 20, 1998

    Republican Gov. Gary Johnson has attached a caveat to his bid for a second term – if he loses the election, he has promised to retire from public life. Johnson currently enjoys approval ratings between 50 and 55 percent, but this legislative session's endgame could be critical. Democrats have loaded the state budget – including substantial increases for education and the state police. The conservative governor, who claims education and law-and-order programs as his priorities, may find himself in an awkward position if forced to veto those increases.

    Democrat Gary King , son of former New Mexico Gov. Bruce King (D), has entered the gubernatorial race, tightening an already competitive Democratic field that includes Reese Fullerton, Martin Chavez, Ben Chavez, Jerry Apodaca and Robert Vigil. The filing deadline for statewide offices was Feb. 10; legislative candidates have until March 17 to file for office.

    More State Political News From:
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    Massachusetts | Ohio | South Dakota | Tennessee | Utah

    Alabama: State Rep. Takes Leave

    AL Republican state Rep. Nelson Papucci has announced he is taking an indefinite leave of absence to recover from angioplasty surgery. At the same time, the FBI has begun reviewing Papucci's Internet correspondence with a Colorado woman in which he allegedly claimed to be a member of white supremacist groups. In the electronic mail, Papucci reportedly said he had witnessed the killings of more than 40 blacks.

    Arizona: Kyle Denies Charges of Sexual Impropriety

    Allegations of sexual impropriety against state Rep. Richard Kyle (R) have become the focus of attention in the Arizona legislature. Two teenage pages accused Kyle, who represents the Chandler area, of making sexual advances and suggestions to them, and that he invited a page to his office for a drink. The pages claim Kyle mentioned the girls' ages, saying he could "get in trouble for [the advances]." Kyle denies all charges, and has suggested he may sue the state, the pages and House Speaker Jeff Groscost (R) for defamation of character.

    California: Term Limits Create New Candidates

    Term limits have pushed two key California legislative leaders into statewide races. Democratic State Sen. John Bruton of San Francisco has become Senate pro tem, following the departure of Sen. Bill Lockyer (D). Lockyear, who presided over an expanded Democratic majority in the state Senate, will face state Sen. Chuck Calderon (D) and freshman U.S. Rep. Lynn Schenk (D) in the June 2 Democratic primary for attorney general.

    In addition, term-limited Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante (D) will turn over the speaker's gavel Feb. 26 to Los Angeles Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa. He currently leads the Democratic pack in the lieutenant governor's race.

    Illinois: Senator Kicked Off Primary Ballot

    IL State officials removed Democratic state Sen. Penny Severns, from the March 17 Democratic primary ballot for secretary of state, saying she that 40 percent of the signatures on her nominating petitions were invalid.

    A favorite of party regulars, Severns is a former candidate for lieutenant governor and is often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial hopeful. Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, one of Severns' rivals for the Democratic nomination, challenged her petition for ballot access. A former secret service agent, McCarthy gained national attention when he was injured during an attempted assignation of President Ronald Reagan (R).

    McCarthy, has been criticized for challenging Severns while she battles breast cancer, and labeled by both Democratic and Republican women as "anti-woman." He may gain some credibility from her ouster from the ballot as he faces off against Democrat Jesse White, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, for the nomination. White will likely win Severn's endorsement. One consolation for Democrats consolation is that the race for the Republican nomination fight for secretary of state, which traditionally has been a stepping stone to the governorship, also has been controversial.

    Iowa: GOP to Lure Presidential Hopefuls

    Iowa Republicans have invited at least a dozen VIPs to a celebration on the eve of the June 13 Iowa State Republican convention. Most major GOP presidential contenders, as well as several Republican personalities have been invited, according to party chairman Steve Grubbs. This special guest list includes publishing magnate Steve Forbes, Texas Gov. George Bush, U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), commentator Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), former vice president Dan Quayle, 2996 vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp, and Elizabeth Dole.

    Maine: Governor's Race Catching On

    ME Former state Rep. James Bowers is the first Democrat to announce he will run against Gov. Angus King (I). Bowers has been an officer of the state Democratic Party for the past six years. Democrat Thomas Connolly is another possible candidate, but House Speaker Elizabeth Mitchell has said she will not run.

    On the Republican side, State Rep. Henry Joy and former education commissioner Leo Martin will likely compete for the nomination. Gubernatorial candidates have until March 15 to gather 2,000 signatures required for ballot access.

    Massachusetts: State Rep. May Face Naval Reserve Duty

    Military preparations against Iraq may leave the Massachuestts House without a Ways and Means chair at budget time this spring. State Rep. Paul Haley (D), a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve, serves in Battle Group Staff II, which augments the main battle group of the carrier USS George Washington. Haley may be called into duty if reserves are needed for a confrontation with Iraq. If Haley heads to the Persian Gulf, Rep. Michael Ruane (D) would take his place at hearings and budget review.

    Ohio: Running Mates Hail from Columbus

    Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Lee Fisher has selected Columbus City Council President Michael Coleman as his running mate. A moderate Democrat, Coleman is known for his ability to transcend special interests in a city where Republicans control nearly everything but the city council. A native of the Democratic stronghold of Toledo, he is the first black to run for lieutenant governor in the state's history. Fisher's primary opponent, Democrat Bruce Douglas, picked another Columbus resident for his running mate – Mark Hatch, school board member and former board president.

    Secretary of State Bob Taft, the anticipated Republican nominee, has yet to name a running mate. State Sen. Gary Suhadolnik (R) – a conservative considered intelligent but brash – has been floated as a possibility in party circles. Suhadolnik, who will be forced out of the legislature by term limits in a few years, is known for his pro-business stand on environmental issues when he chaired the state Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Environment committee. He now chairs the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor panel.

    South Dakota: Reports Speak Louder Than Words

    SD Although Gov. Bill Janklow (R) says he will not disclose his re-election plans until after the session, his recent campaign finance reports speak volumes. If he seeks another term, Janklow would begin with a $377,000 warchest.

    Attorney General Mark Barnett, who has said he will seek the GOP nomination if Janklow does not run, reported only $166 in campaign funds. Two other Republicans – state Rep. Dick Brown and former lieutenant governor Steve Kirby – have also expressed interest. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Bernie Hunhoff reported $100,000 for the gubernatorial race.

    Tennessee: Privatization Critic May Run

    State Rep. John Mark Windle is weighing a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. As part of his exploratory effort, Windle spoke to two groups that oppose privatizing the state prison system. He is the legislature's most vocal critic of the prison privatization legislation backed by GOP Gov. Don Sundquist and key legislative leaders.

    Meanwhile, state Rep. Mary Ann Eckles and developer Joe Hollingsworth are both keeping mum about their possible Democratic primary bids. Even if all three entered the race, however, Sundquist appears to have smoothing sailing toward re-election. Last month the governor reported $5.1 million in the bank for his 1998 campaign.

    Utah: Governor, Speaker Battle Over Control

    UT Control over state capitol operations is shaping up as a battle of wills between Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt and Democratic House Speaker Mel Brown. Last session, Brown offered legislation to create a commission overseeing legislative operations. Leavitt, vetoed the bill, saying the legislature would have a majority of seats on the commission.

    Brown is moving similar legislation this year. Despite gubernatorial opposition, the bill went to the House Government Operations Committee and on to the full House. Leavitt wanted the committee vote delayed until they could reach a compromise.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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