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    State of Play

    Arizona: Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Legislator

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, April 17, 1998

    The state House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to dismiss an ethics complaint against Minority Leader Art Hamilton (D). Rep. Benjamin Hanley (D) said Hamilton admitted shoving staffer Richard Bark and has apologized privately and publicly. Hanley, who made the motion to dismiss, added that Bark accepted the apology.

    After the hearing, Hamilton sidestepped questions of whether the probe, launched by Majority Leader Lori Daniels (R), was designed to damage him politically or thwart his chances of being elected secretary of state in November. Daniels argued the two-day hearing was necessary to find the truth of what happened. Hamilton's apology and public statements didn't tell the whole story, she said.

    Hamilton said the incident "doesn't enhance" his chances of defeating Secretary of State Betsey Bayless (R). Insiders say Hamilton is not likely to unseat Bayless from the post – the next in line of succession to the governor in Arizona.

    More State Political News From:
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    Alabama: Hammett Faces No Opposition – For Now


    Democratic House Speaker Pro Tem Seth Hammett could see smooth sailing without primary or general election opposition this year. Last week Hammett managed to persuade Republican Janet Ezell Nelson to withdraw from the election. He argued that Covington County – Hammett's home county – would have more influence if he was reelected this year, then elected House speaker in 1999. Current House Speaker Jimmy Clark, a Democrat, is retiring. GOP officials hope to put a wrinkle in Hammett's plan by naming a replacement candidate for Nelson. The party is entitled to a new candidate because Nelson withdrew after the filing deadline.

    California: Gubernatorial Candidates are Big Spenders

    Three of the four leading gubernatorial candidates are receiving national attention, but not for their platforms. Instead, politicos are fascinated by the massive spending of Republican Attorney General Dan Lungren and two Democrats, U.S. Rep. Jane Harman and businessman Al Checchi. The level of spending for this gubernatorial primary is expected to set a new record by the end of the month.

    The primary, the first under the open system, is June 2. With no primary for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Republicans can cross over to cast preferences among the Democrats.

    Lt. Gov. Gray Davis (D) is expected to be overshadowed in the primary by the huge personally financed campaign war chests of the other three candidates. Checchi and Harman introduced themselves to voters statewide through massive television advertisements. A recent Los Angeles Times poll of likely Democratic voters shows Checchi and Harman running even.

    Indiana: Nancy Irsay Enters Legislative Race

    Nancy Irsay, widow of Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay, will challenge first-term state Rep. Jerry Torr in the Republican primary. Torr's district is in Carmel, a heavily Republican suburb of northern Indianapolis. Although she does not have a platform, Irsay says she wants to become involved in civic matters and would ideally like to serve on the state House Ways and Means Committee. Torr, an insurance claims adjuster, has enlisted the support of House Republican Leader Paul Mannweiler and his top lieutenant, John Keeler, both of Indianapolis. Democrats have yet to field a candidate.

    Irsay's strong name recognition has party insiders worried she'll slide onto the fall ballot and give Democrats a point of attack in a district that normally defaults to the GOP. In a year when both parties are fighting to break a 50-50 split, sources say this district could be key.

    Massachusetts: Governor's Race Turns Personal


    Acting Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) dropped any pretense of typical political decorum when he accused his Republican gubernatorial challenger, state Treasurer Joseph Malone, of avoiding taxes through a family trust in his mother's name. The Cellucci campaign called on Malone to answer questions about why $91,000 in taxes weren't paid on his family trust's Waltham property between 1993 and 1996, and why the trust still has not paid taxes for 1997. Malone avoided the questions, saying Cellucci should stay out of his 83-year old mother's personal finances. Malone's mother is the sole administrator of the trust, 4.3 percent of which belongs to Malone.

    New Hampshire: Speaker Denies Last-Minute Gubernatorial Bid

    State House Speaker Donna Sytek (R) put to rest rumors she was considering a last-minute bid to oppose Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. GOP leaders continue to beat the bushes in hopes of finding a more prominent candidate than the two who have entered the race. Conservatives want 1996 nominee Ovide Lamontagne to try to make a comeback, although insiders say that is unlikely. Moderates and the GOP establishment have spoken to 1996 runner-up and former U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff, but he too is unlikely to make a run against the popular Shaheen.

    New Mexico: Governor Not a Bungee Jumper After All

    Republican Gov. Gary Johnson is neither a bungee jumper nor a roller-blading champ, contrary to earlier descriptions on his official Internet site. The governor's Web page ( had listed the erroneous information, including the amateur record for roller blading down Sandia Mountain – until it was pointed out by a reporter. Johnson, a Republican, and his press secretary said they don't know how the information made it to the website. It has been removed.

    North Carolina: Congressional Primaries Likely Delayed Until Fall


    North Carolina voters will go to the polls three times this year. A federal panel recently ruled the state's 12th Congressional District unconstitutional after they had been challenged as racially gerrymandered. The state legislature has asked the court to give lawmakers until the end of May to present newly drawn congressional districts. Congressional primaries will be held on Sept. 15.

    The same panel of federal judges earlier refused to delay the state's May 5 legislative primary. The ruling allowing the primary to go on does not dismiss a lawsuit charging that the legislative districts were also racially gerrymandered, but it greatly reduces the likelihood of having to redraw state legislative districts before the 1998 general elections. Voters will cast their ballots for all non-congressional primaries and ballot questions on May 5.

    Ohio: Douglas Opts Out of Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

    Democrat Bruce Douglas has withdrawn from the May 5 gubernatorial primary. Douglas had trailed in the polls even though his campaign spent $1 million on an intensive three-month campaign and sent direct mail on his key issue – education – to voters. Former attorney general Lee Fisher will now run unopposed in the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Secretary of State Bob Taft in the general election. Current Gov. George Voinovich (R) is running for U.S. Senate.

    Pennsylvania: Wide Gap in Gubernatorial Campaign Coffers

    PA Party-supported gubernatorial candidate Ivan Itkin (D), a state representative from Allegheny County, reports only $118,000 on hand in his campaign coffers – compared with incumbent Gov. Tom Ridge (R), who has an estimated $5.5 million. Itkin's largest contributions for the Jan. 1 to March 30 reporting period: $5,000 from the state's AFL-CIO chapter; $5,000 from the union representing the state social service workers; and $3,000 from the political action committee for the state's Psychological Association. But before he faces Ridge, Itkin must first defeat Don Bailey, a former auditor general who is running without endorsements.

    South Dakota: Democrats Lack Candidates in 27 State Races

    Democrats do not appear to have the numbers to take control of either state legislative chamber in South Dakota. As the filing deadline passed, Democrats failed to run challengers against nine Republican senators and left 18 of the 70 House without a Democratic candidate. Republicans look nearly guaranteed to keep their House and Senate majorities and could add seats in the Senate.

    The GOP is aiming for a two-thirds Senate majority, which would require at least two additional seats, and the landscape may make it possible. Republicans are running strong candidates to challenge two Democratic senators, Frank Kloucek and Gerald Lange. However, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Alan Aker is leaving his seat up for grabs in Rapid City. Both parties are fielding strong candidates in a district that's been a swing seat since redistricting took effect with the 1992 elections. Republicans temporarily lost the Senate to the Democrats in 1992, but the GOP took it back in 1994 and made further gains in 1996 – coinciding with the return of Republican Gov. Bill Janklow.

    Texas: Cornyn Pulls Surprise Victory in AG Primary Runoff


    The April 14 GOP primary runoff for attorney general saw a come-from-behind win by former Texas Supreme Court Justice John Cornyn over front-runner Barry Williamson, a railroad commissioner. In the original three-way primary, Cornyn placed a distant second to Williamson. Cornyn now faces former attorney general Jim Mattox (D) in November.

    The runoff was bitter – and bruising to Williamson. He was hurt by repeated claims that his résumé was padded and that he misrepresented his experience in the legal field. The Cornyn victory spells trouble for Mattox, who was expected to post a slim win against Williamson. Cornyn has prior legal experience and an effective campaign apparatus, as proven with his runoff victory. With the expected coattails of popular Gov. George Bush (R), the attorney general's race is wide open.

    Virginia: Gilmore Says GOP Needs to Expand Outreach

    The GOP should do more to reach out to African-Americans, Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore told a government class at his alma mater, the University of Virginia. Gilmore also criticized the party for poor efforts in addressing minority concerns. He all but endorsed former Democratic governor Doug Wilder as the next president of Virginia Union University. Wilder was seen as key to Gilmore's gubernatorial victory when he refused to endorse Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, the Democratic nominee.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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