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    State of Play

    Wisconsin: Parole Politics Hit Governor's Race

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, March 27, 1998

    Underdog Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey is hoping tough talk about Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson's prison parole policies will give his campaign the boost it needs. To date, the picture of Garvey's bid has been weak, with modest fund raising and little free media. In addition, Garvey's press secretary, Dave Begel, resigned from the campaign to focus on his consulting business.

    But the Democrat is hoping a new report could give his campaign a new lease on life. The study shows that Wisconsin prison inmates have served less time in recent years despite tougher penalties. Thompson blames Democrats for not agreeing to his prison building plans in 1991. A bipartisan group of lawmakers at the time agreed to a plan to add 1,500 beds, while the governor had requested 4,500.

    In addition, John Husz, the head of the Wisconsin state Parole Board, resigned just days short of a vote confirming his re-nomination. As Thompson's prison gatekeeper, Husz faced criticism for releasing too many inmates. He also took hits for participating in prison population strategy sessions, when his role is required to be neutral.

    Garvey has said he will make the Thompson administration's release of dangerous criminals a major theme in his campaign.

    More State Political News From:
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    Nebraska | North Dakota | Ohio | Oregon | Pennsylvania | South Dakota

    Alabama: Campaign Checks Move Behind Closed Doors


    Alabama lawmakers have decided to limit the access of lobbyists – or at least the appearance of their financial influence. The state Senate has changed its rules, banning lobbyists from handing campaign contribution checks to lawmakers in the halls of the Senate. Legislators can still accept checks in the privacy of Senate offices and in the halls of the House, however.

    The change, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Dial (D), was approved on a voice vote. Lobbyists or groups that violate the new rule will be banned from the seventh floor of the statehouse for one year. Dial reportedly sought the change after heavy lobbying – including the blatant passing of checks – before the defeat of a proposal to outlaw electronic video gaming machines. Lobbyists reportedly gave $500 to senators and $250 to representatives.

    Alaska: Candidate May Make Strategic Shift

    Republican state Sen. Robin Taylor's campaign staff reportedly is urging him to ease up on his capital punishment stance, hoping to move him to a more centrist position for a potential gubernatorial bid. Taylor's backers, including the right wing of the GOP, religious conservatives and right-to-life organizations, could make him an easy target in the primary. Businessman John Lindauer, a moderate, has already announced a primary bid, as has Wayne Anthony Ross, who is thought to fall somewhere between the Lindauer and Taylor on the political spectrum.

    Arkansas: Governor's Race Shaping Up


    Better roads and a repeal of the sales tax on food are among the key campaign issues for Jonesboro lawyer Bill Bristow, the only Democrat officially seeking his party's gubernatorial nomination. Bristow has promised to develop a bond program to pay for the ambitious highway plans. He also said he will work to replace the $140 million in revenues currently generated by the food sales tax. In his private law practice, Bristow represents Arkansas State Trooper Danny Ferguson in Paula Corbin Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton. Jones' suit accuses Ferguson of conspiring to deprive her of her constitutional rights.

    On the Republican side, Gov. Mike Huckabee officially kicked off his gubernatorial campaign just this month, but finance reports show he already has raised almost $1 million in his bid for a first full term. Huckabee took office in July 1996 after former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) resigned in the wake of his Whitewater conviction. He has been rumored to be a potential Republican vice-presidential candidate, and has said he won't promise to serve a full term if he wins the gubernatorial race.

    Hawaii: Cayetano Builds Campaign Operation


    Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano (D) is shifting staff as he gears up his reelection bid. Charles Toguchi, Cayetano's chief of staff and architect of Democratic his successful 1994 gubernatorial bid, resigned recently to work full time on the campaign. The state's economy will be a key issue in this election, and the incumbent's chances could be hurt if it does not improve by November. Recent polls indicate that part of Cayetano's economic reform package – his proposed hike in the general excise tax – has cost him support. The governor's ratings still remain high for his perceived willingness to speak his mind and make tough decisions.

    Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Hawaii has urged members to lobby against a bill that would reduce the level of contributions political parties can give to local campaigns. The bill would also reduce the amount individuals can give to a political party. If passed, the measure would strike a major blow in the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Linda Lingle, the Maui mayor. In Democrat-dominated Hawaii, Republican challengers must look to their party for financial help to offset the strong grass-roots fund raising by Democrats.

    Idaho: Hawkins Declines Congressional Bid

    Republican state Sen. Stan Hawkins will seek reelection to the legislature rather than make a bid for Congress. The Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District will be crowded – House Speaker Mike Simpson has filed, and state Rep. Mark Stubbs, former state Sen. Dan Watkins and former state Sen. Anne Rydalch are all expected to file. Former U.S. Rep. Richard Stallings is expected to run unopposed for the Democratic nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Crapo (R), who is running for the U.S. Senate.

    Massachusetts: Democrat Sees Power on Beacon Hill, Not Capitol Hill

    State Senate President Thomas Birmingham (D) said he thinks he could win Massachusetts' coveted 8th Congressional District set, but he won't run because the job does not appeal to him. Birmingham said that as a freshman congressman in the minority party, he would have little real influence on national policy decisions.

    Birmingham had been considered the front-runner to replace U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D). Now, Boston City Council members Thomas Keane and Charles Yancey, former state Reps. Susan Tracy and Marjorie Clapprood, former state House Majority Leader Richard Voke, former Sen. George Bachrach and Cambridge businessman John O'Connor are all reportedly considering bids.

    Michigan: Tuition Tax Credit Sought


    The advocacy organization School Choice YES! is gathering signatures to put a state tuition tax credit proposal on Michigan's November ballot. The proposal would amend the state constitution and would give parents a tax credit to use in sending their children to the school of their choice – public, private or parochial. As yet, the tax credit amount is unspecified. The group has set up a Web page at

    Nebraska: Teachers endorse in governor's race


    The Nebraska State Education Association endorsed Lincoln Mayor Mike Johanns in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Johanns is running in a three-way tussle with State Auditor John Breslow and Rep. Jon Christensen. Breslow and Christensen are feisty opponents, both with ample campaign funds. Johanns is a more passive moderate who built a statewide network of support while serving as chairman of the League of Nebraska Municipalities.

    As expected, the NSEA, which represents most of the state's public school teachers, also endorsed Bill Hoppner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Hoppner is the likely nominee over former state senator Jim McFarland.

    North Dakota: New York Inspires Tax Holiday Plan

    Republican Gov. Ed Schafer wants to take a lesson from the Big Apple – a one-day or one-week "tax holiday" on sales taxes. New York's success in attracting out-of-state customers inspired Schafer. The governor also says the proposal would be a gift to taxpayers in light of budget surpluses. The North Dakota Retail Association likes the idea, but state sources wonder if cities that levy their own sales taxes would agree. Sixty North Dakota cities have sales taxes.

    Ohio: School Tax Plan Demands Governor's Attention


    Republican Gov. George Voinovich has canceled a long-planned trip to Israel next month. Instead, he will stay home to campaign for the proposal that would raise sales taxes a penny. Observers say this is a clear sign the proposal, which appears on the May 5 ballot, is in jeopardy.

    The governor's support is critical – but in the past it has not been fail safe. Twice before voters have gone against the governor on high-profile ballot issues – the November 1997 face-off between big business and organized labor over workers' comp reforms and a 1992 Voinovich proposal to raise revenue with a penny-a-can soda tax.

    Oregon: Signatures Gathered for Clear Cutting Ban

    Twenty-five thousand Oregonians have signed an initiative to ban all clear cutting in the state. The measure, vigorously opposed by the timber industry, would apply to public and private lands. Logging companies maintain that clear cutting is an efficient method for harvesting Douglas firs. Advocates, however, say the ban would protect streams, reduce landslides and create thousands of jobs because other forms of timber harvesting are more labor intensive.

    The ban's supporters hired professional staff to lead the effort – and more than 1,000 volunteers are collecting signatures. A similar 1996 effort came up short of the required number of signatures to get on the fall ballot. Supporters must come up with more than 73,000 additional valid signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November ballot.

    Pennsylvania: Few Legislative Challengers Appear

    This year's elections are shaping up to be a status-quo proposition in Pennsylvania. Only one incumbent state senator – Stewart Greenleaf – faces a challenge in both the primary and general elections, according to a report by Pennsylvanians for Effective Government (PEG), a pro-business political action committee. Six senators face no opposition through November. Twenty-five of the 50 Senate seats will be on the ballot.

    On the House side, 66 incumbents face no opposition in the primary or general election. The House has 203 seats on the ballot, with only 11 considered open seats. PEG President William A. Cook says the lack of open seats may indicate that people are generally happy with the direction the state is heading.

    South Dakota: Governor Home, Running Again

    SD After several weeks in the hospital recovering from intestinal surgery, Republican Gov. Bill Janklow returned home this week – and quickly dispelled rumors about his health by announcing his reelection bid.

    No Republican candidates surfaced as party activists awaited word on Janklow's candidacy. Both Attorney General Mark Barnett and state Rep. Dick Brown put potential bids for the Republican nomination on hold in late 1997, upon indications Janklow likely would run again.

    Senate Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff, who's seeking the Democratic nomination, immediately challenged Janklow to agree to monthly debates, including a debate on the eve of the November election. Janklow, 58, is seeking a fourth term; he served as governor from 1979 through 1986 and returned in 1995.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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