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    State of Play

    The March 6 edition of State of Play originally misidentified Arizona state Sens. Scott Bundgaard (R) and Sue Grace (R) as being from Alabama.

    Arizona: Affirmative Action Proposal Draws Ire

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, March 6, 1998

    State Sen. Scott Bundgaard's efforts to craft a constitutional amendment to ban sex- and race-based preferences are drawing fire from fellow Republican senators who say he is trying to undermine their relations with constituents.

    Sen. Sue Grace (R) and other GOP senators who oppose such bans are angry because Bundgaard conducted a poll in their districts without authorization. Bundgaard, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has not been able to get the necessary 16 votes for Senate approval of the ban – primarily because six Republicans oppose the bill. Earlier this month, state GOP leaders asked Republican lawmakers not to put the issue on the ballot because it could be a major draw for Democrats who oppose such bans.

    Working with a California advocacy group that achieved a ban victory, Bundgaard organized a poll targeted in the districts represented by the six GOP holdouts. He acknowledged the poll was an effort to pressure the legislators to change their minds.

    Most lawmakers from the targeted districts want Bundgaard reprimanded. While he would not share the survey results and refused to disclose the poll funding, Bundgaard would say only that some help was coming from the American Civil Rights Initiative, which successfully pushed California's Proposition 209.

    More State Political News From:
    Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Idaho | Kansas
    Maine | Nevada | New Jersey | North Carolina | Pennsylvania
    South Carolina | Texas | Vermont

    Arkansas: Crucial AG Race is Shaping Up

    AR The Arkansas attorney general's race is shaping up to be competitive, and the victor will play a critical role in the state's future political landscape. The attorney general-elect will determine which party will have the majority vote on the three-member state Board of Apportionment, which will be responsible for the 2001 redistricting of state legislative and judicial districts. (This scenario assumes Gov. Huckabee is re-elected.)

    Former state Rep. Mark Pryor is not expected to face opposition in the Democratic primary, setting up a likely general election battle between Pryor, son of former Sen. David Pryor (D), and Republican Betty Dickey, Pine Bluff prosecutor. Last week, Dickey signed former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed as her political consultant.

    California: Brown Back on the Ballot

    Democrat Jerry Brown has formally entered the race for Oakland mayor. Brown, a former California governor and candidate for president and U.S. Senate, he has campaigned unofficially for months. Recent polls put Brown as the front-runner in a race with nine minority opponents, including a county supervisor, a local NAACP president and a city council member. The liberal Brown is expected to fare well in Oakland, where 40 percent of voters are black and 30 percent are Asians and Hispanics.

    Colorado: Speaker Berry Bows Out of Governor's Race

    Colorado House Speaker Chuck Berry has unexpectedly withdrawn from the Republican gubernatorial primary, citing the substantial lead of State Treasurer Bill Owens among likely delegates at the Republican State Convention May 30. Berry offered to support the GOP nominee.

    Term limits make Berry ineligible to run again for the legislature, but he may accept a leadership position at state GOP headquarters. Rumors persist that the current outspoken state GOP chair could be replaced at the state party convention.

    Connecticut: Democrats Rally Forces Behind Kennelly

    CT Connecticut Democrats have avoided a costly gubernatorial primary and strengthened the party's effort to unseat Republican Gov. John Rowland. Despite speculation to the contrary, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim will not enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Ganim's decision literally hands the nomination to U.S. Rep. Barbara Kennelly. Top state Democrats urged Ganim to stay out of the race, and he is expected to endorse Kennelly.

    Meanwhile, Kennelly hired additional staff and consultants to beef up support after two late-February polls showed her 20 to 25 points behind Rowland. Reacting to criticism that her campaign was unfocused and without key issues, Kennelly will likely take off the gloves now that Ganim is officially out of the race.

    Idaho: Abortion Bills Slow Legislative Pace

    Controversial House-passed abortion bills are expected to slow the pace of Idaho's legislative session. The Senate State Affairs Committee will consider the abortion legislation March 11 – less than two weeks before the target adjournment date of March 20. Some Republicans fear they could lose members in moderately conservative Ada County and northern Idaho districts if they support bills that ban partial-birth abortion and require parental consent for minors.

    Kansas: Democrats Find an Opponent for Gov. Graves

    Kansas Democrats may finally mount a gubernatorial candidate to challenge Gov. Bill Graves (R). State Sen. Janis Lee is seriously considering the race and state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley may join as her running mate. Lee is the ranking minority member of the Senate Assessment and Taxation panel. She has not been publicly enthusiastic about a gubernatorial bid, she has said the party needs a strong candidate to serve as a "voice of reason." The Democrats want a viable candidate in place in case Graves unexpectedly loses to a social conservative in the Republican primary.

    Maine: Former State Rep takes on Gov. King

    A formal challenger has emerged against Independent Gov. Angus King. Republican James Longley, a former state representative, attended several GOP caucuses recently to gather signatures supporting his candidacy. Sources report veteran Republican campaigners from the camps of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) and former governor John McKernan are backing Longley.

    Nevada: Poll Say Guinn Leads GOP Primary

    AL Kenny Guinn appears to be the Republican gubernatorial front-runner in 1998, according to a recent poll. Guinn received support from 37 percent of those polled by Opinions of Nevada for The Ralston Report, a political newsletter. Aaron Russo garnered 20 percent, and Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammergren received 11 percent. Secretary of State Dean Heller (R) trailed with just 5 percent. Russo's numbers were boosted by a series of television ads which began airing when the poll was conducted the second week of February.

    New Jersey: Tax Increase Plan may be on the Table

    Gov. Christine Whitman joined the ranks of fellow Republican governors across the country, moving slowly toward possible tax increases. Whitman, who rode income tax cut promises to victory in both 1993 and 1997, told reporters she will look at tax increases if recommended by the state's newly created Property Tax Commission, which is a part of her administration. High property taxes continue to be a major issue in New Jersey, and state lawmakers must respond to vigorous complaints from municipal and county officials. High auto insurance premiums have also continued to be a major voter complaint.

    North Carolina: Letter Ties Hog Waste, Hispanic Population

    AL A state representative who has tackled the hog industry's environmental problems may have damaged his own reelection campaign when a recent letter linked environmental problems to the increasing Hispanic population as well as hog farm waste.

    Republican Cindy Watson – who has already drawn the ire of pork producers in her district – sent a letter to the state Environmental Health Dept. requesting further help on the hog issues. Watson asked for an environmental impact study because of the threats presented by increasing number of hogs, chickens, turkeys, cows, goats – and Hispanics, her letter noted – as well the amount of human and animal wastes applied to the sandy soil.

    After her letter became public, Watson clarified that she was referring to the part of the Hispanic population that lives in substandard housing with poor water/sewer facilities. Watson insisted that she did not mean the comment as an insult and blamed herself for failing to have the letter proofread following a busy legislative day.

    Farmers for Fairness, a pork producer advocacy group, has targeted Watson. This year alone, Farmers for Fairness has spent $50,000 in TV ads against Watson, and a special House committee is investigating whether the group violated campaign finance laws by running the ads. Watson complained in January to the state board of elections questioning whether Farmers for Fairness should be forced to file as a campaign committee because of politically motivated radio, television and newspaper ads.

    Pennsylvania: Former Congresswoman Looks to Lt. Gov. Race

    Democratic leaders reportedly are pushing former U.S. Rep. Margorie Margolies-Mezvinsky to run for lieutenant governor. Margolies-Mezvinsky, a former one-term congresswoman from Philadelphia, will announce her bid at the Democratic State Committee meeting. She now leads the Women's Campaign Fund in Washington, D.C., and was nationally known for casting the deciding vote for President Clinton's 1993 tax increase. House Democratic Leader H. William DeWeese (D) and other top party leaders have been pushing her candidacy, which is expected to help the Democratic ticket overall.

    South Carolina: Confederate Flag a Possible Issue in Gov. Race

    A recent poll commissioned by a group defending the presence of the Confederate flag at the state capitol in Columbia suggests sympathetic candidates will attract substantial support. Controversy over flying the flag of the Confederacy has simmered for more than a year in South Carolina.

    The only gubernatorial candidate to support the confederate flag is Lexington County Sheriff Jimmy Metts – a conservative Republican running as an Independent against Gov. David Beasley (R). The poll, which indicates that the flag issue may be worth almost 10 percentage points, suggests Metts could capture much of the conservative GOP vote, making the contest between Beasley and Democratic challenger Jim Hodges much closer in the 1998 November elections.

    Texas: Former Roommates in Political Battle

    AL The race for what some call the most powerful elected office in the state – lieutenant governor – pits two former roommates from Texas A&M University. Democrat John Sharp has a reputation as an exacting technocrat, and says efficiency suggestions from his Texas Performance Review has saved the state billions of dollars. Rick Perry, state agriculture commissioner and long considered a rising Republican star, is expected to blossom this election. Political veterans expect an antagonistic race between these longtime political rivals who have distanced themselves – politically and personally – over the years.

    Observers give Sharp the edge as the more astute officeholder who has surrounded himself with top-notch people. But Perry cannot be underestimated, particularly with the assistance of Republican Gov. George W. Bush, who wants Perry as lieutenant governor. Bush could then enter the 2000 presidential election with the state in Republican hands. While Bush is powerful, many insiders believe the lieutenant governor's budget-writing and day-to-day legislative clout may be more influential in the state's political process.

    Perry has the money and party support to wage a successful campaign. Sharp will be fighting a life-or-death battle for the Democrats; many consider him to be one of the party's best hopes for a new winning presence. Look for Perry to combine the Republican strongholds of Houston and Dallas with the rural base he developed as agriculture commissioner. Sharp must distance himself from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro and – in more subtle ways – from the party itself to be successful. Outgoing Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, a Democrat, is expected to offer Sharp a tremendous boost.

    Vermont: GOP Searching for Top Candidate

    Vermont Republicans continue to search for a candidate to oppose Democratic Gov. Howard Dean. Controversial state Rep. Ruth Dwyer is being touted as a possible Republican candidate, pushed by many of her House colleagues. Dwyer supporters began a petition drive to collect signatures urging her to run, and sources say about 250 people have signed.

    Insiders estimate any serious challenger to Dean will need to raise $500,000, as the incumbent already has $700,000 in campaign funds. Republicans are also courting former Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling and businessman Bernard Rome for the gubernatorial run.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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