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    State of Play

    Opponent of New Drunk Driving Laws Arrested for DUI

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, April 3, 1998

    A Connecticut lawmaker who has been one of the state's leading figures opposed to lowering the legal drunk driving threshold from .10 to .08 was arrested for driving under the influence in March. Republican state Rep. William Varese was arrested after he crashed his car into five parked cars upon leaving a topless dancing club in Bridgeport. At the time of the arrest, his blood alcohol level was .167 (The state's blood-alcohol limit is .10). Varese has not yet indicated whether he will vote on the blood alcohol level measure when it comes up.

    More State Political News From:
    Arkansas | Hawaii | Kentucky | Louisiana | Minnesota | Nebraska
    Nevada | New York | North Carolina | Utah | Vermont | Wyoming

    Arkansas: FCC Pulls Plug on Non-Campaign Ads


    Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee's campaign, which has emphasized the need for ethics in public office, came under fire when critics questioned a state Human Services Department television advertisement that features Huckabee helping to promote a government insurance program for children. The Federal Communications Commission has ordered the ads off the air by April 4 to avoid equal-time election law provisions. The governor promised to pull the advertisements by April 3.

    Huckabee, who became governor in 1996 following the mid-term resignation of former Democratic Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, announced his bid for his first full gubernatorial term by gathering 250 supporters, a religious grade school choir and a high school symphony band at the state capitol. In addition to ethics, Huckabee promises to focus on education and the economy.

    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.

    Hawaii: Polls Favor Municipal Leaders

    The most recent Mason-Dixon poll shows Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris leading Gov. Benjamin Cayetano for the Democratic nomination. The survey also shows Maui Mayor Linda Lingle leading Frank Fasi, her GOP primary opponent. Lingle also leads Cayetano in the current general election match-up. Poll respondents gave their highest favorable rating to city and county employees for doing more with less and for making difficult decisions during Hawaii's tough economic times. The high ratings for municipal leaders could translate popular support for Harris and Lingle.

    Kentucky: Paul Patton Popular in Poll

    Democratic Gov. Paul Patton's popularity has risen, according to the latest Bluegrass State Poll conducted by The Louisville Courier-Journal. The survey shows Patton with a 71 percent approval rating. Just 17 percent of poll respondents said they disapprove of his performance.

    Louisiana: Limited Truce Set Within GOP


    The Louisiana GOP worked hard to mend intra-party fences before kicking off fall congressional campaigns. The Republican State Central Committee achieved consensus among warring factions – and a subsequent truce – by deciding not to bounce three long-time party stalwarts. In addition, the GOP extended the terms of its officers for two more years.

    The party closed ranks behind Gov. Mike Foster, who has been aligned with traditional, moderate Republicans, and party chairman Mike Francis, who has been aligned with the conservative religious right. Much of the party squabbling centered on whether to boot state Labor Secretary Garey Forster, state Rep. Shirley Bowler of Harahan and national committeewoman Patricia Brister off the central committee.

    All are longtime party loyalists, but all have been under fire. Forster was in trouble for endorsing his sister-in-law, a Democrat, over a Republican in a New Orleans election. The seats held by Bowler and Brister were in jeopardy because they moved out of the districts from which they were elected to the central committee. As a result of the truce, moderate Republicans kept three of their number on the committee, while conservatives got to retain control until the end of 2000.

    Minnesota: Mayor Outlines State of the City

    St. Paul Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Norm Coleman offered a glimpse of his campaign platform during a recent State of the City speech. Coleman touted the city's most recent accomplishments – low unemployment, a drop in crime, new business building and the selection of St. Paul as an expansion NHL team city. But the mayor also said St. Paul must address the issues of education reform, teen pregnancy and drug abuse. Coleman, a self-proclaimed liberal, mentioned the death of one of his sisters from drug abuse as a factor in his own campaign against drugs. Coleman's sister died in 1991 at age 40. He faces front-runner Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson in the Republican primary.

    Nebraska: Dueling Polls Mark GOP Primary Battle


    The three-way Republican gubernatorial primary continues to attract political fireworks. Rep. Jon Christensen launched the latest volley by releasing a campaign poll showing him as the choice of 34 percent of those polled, compared to 23 percent for State Auditor John Breslow and 18 percent for Lincoln Mayor Mike Johanns. But the other camps disagree: Nebraska insiders say Johanns might be the real sleeper – if Christensen and Breslow damage each other with constant mudslinging.

    Nevada: GOP Gets a Candidate, Democrats Wait

    While Democrats wait to hear if Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa will run again, Republicans have recruited a strong challenger. Former state assemblyman and assistant attorney general Scott Scherer is seeking the post. Scherer served in the attorney general's office from 1987 to 1990 before he was elected to the state Assembly. In addition, Scherer was a member of the state Ethics Commission from 1996 to 1997. Del Papa, a former gubernatorial candidate, is rumored to be leaning toward a run for a third term. She is expected to announce her intentions this month.

    New York: Pataki Wins Polls, Campaign Cash


    Republican Gov. George Pataki enjoys high approval marks from voters, according to a March 25 Quinnipiac College Polling Institute survey. The poll shows 69 percent of voters approved of Pataki's performance, while 24 percent disapproved. Pataki's continued positive job approval numbers, coupled with successful fund-raising, strengthen his shot at reelection.

    Democrats are struggling to overcome Pataki's ratings and fund raising as well as their own disunity. Until the Sept. 15 New York primary, Democrats will focus on the nomination process – not their opponent. Lt. Gov. Betsey McCaughey Ross leads the Democrats, various polls suggest, followed by Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes and New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone. The other Democrats in the race, Long Island Association President James Larocca and former state Economic Development Chair Richard Kahan, are both struggling to gain identity among voters.

    North Carolina: Fetzer Focusing on Governor's Race


    Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer (R) has opened a new political action committee rumored to be his apparatus to raise funds for a 2000 gubernatorial bid. Called "Citizens for NC," the committee kicks off with an April 2 fundraiser. Fetzer has said he will not seek a fourth mayoral term and is leaning towards the governor's race. Sources close to the new committee say he will focus on education, budget issues and conservative solutions to those problems. Other Republicans considering a gubernatorial run in 2000 include House Majority Leader Leo Daughtry and former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot.

    Vermont: Snelling Back to Seek Lieutenant Governor Post


    Republican state Sen. Barbara Snelling wants to take on incumbent Lt. Gov. Doug Racine (D) in a rematch for her old post. Although Snelling defeated a challenge from Racine in 1994, early bets suggest that Racine holds an advantage. Incumbency should help Racine win in a close race.

    Snelling is well known to Vermont voters. Her husband, Richard, died in office while serving as governor in the early 1990s. When Democratic Lt. Gov. Howard Dean moved up to the governorship, Snelling ran for lieutenant governor in 1992. She considered challenging Dean for the governorship, but eventually decided against it. In 1996, a stroke sidelined her plans for a gubernatorial bid; instead she won a state Senate seat.

    Republicans argue Snelling has a good chance to win. She gained visibility as a leading opponent of Act 60, a tax-structure reform bill, and worked against Democrats and moderate Republican legislators on the measure. Republicans will present a conservative ticket this fall, pairing Snelling with gubernatorial candidate Bernie Rome. Republicans hope to draw contrasts to Democratic team of Dean and Racine.

    Democrats say Racine has several advantages. Dean and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), both popular Democrats, will include Racine in their coordinated campaign efforts. Many see Racine as the eventual successor to Dean, so this race is important to his positioning. Democrats have traditionally done well – due to voter turnout through effective get-out-the-vote efforts – when Leahy is on the ballot.

    Wyoming: Geringer to Seek Reelection, Insiders Say

    Although Gov. Jim Geringer has not yet announced for a second term, insiders say the Republican will run. Several Democrats will seek the nomination, but none are considered serious contenders. University of Wyoming history professor Phil Roberts and state Sen. Keith Goodenough are among the Democrats considering the race.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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