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    State of Play

    New York: In-Fighting Divides Democrats Over Nominee

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, June 5, 1998

    Democrats remain divided on choosing a gubernatorial nominee. The state convention process gave two candidates out of a field of five the nod to face Gov. George Pataki (R). New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone led the convention delegate count, but fell short of the 50.1 percent majority necessary to receive the "party designee" title.

    Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes followed Vallone. Former state Transportation Commissioner Jim Larocca fell just short of garnering the 25 percent needed for automatic inclusion in the primary, but is likely to try to get on the ballot via petition drive.

    Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross also plans a petition drive. She did not attempt to get on the ballot through the convention process, as she only joined the Democratic Party in September 1997. But sources report her supporters were working at the convention. She allegedly asked delegates committed to her to vote for either Larocca or Hynes in the balloting, to keep Vallone from receiving the title of "party designee".

    Urban Development Corp. chief Richard Kahan withdrew from the race before the first balloting, citing lack of financial resources.

    More State Political News From:
    Alabama | Alaska | Arkansas | Colorado | Hawaii | Kansas
    Maryland | Minnesota | Missouri | South Dakota | Texas | Wisconsin

    Alabama: GOP Growth Reflected in Primary Turnout


    The June 2 GOP primary for governor drew a record number of voters – more than 300,000 Republicans went to the polls, thrashing the 1996 turnout record of 215,000. In addition, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats for the first time in Alabama primary history, though Democrats fielded few hotly contested primaries.

    Incumbent Gov. Fob James will face moderate businessman Winton Blount in a June 30 GOP runoff, despite his support from prominent national conservatives. Blount must rally his supporters for a second election in one month, and James must face a new factor: Democrats can vote in the GOP runoff.

    State Sen. Steve Windom (R) will face Senate President Pro Tem DeWayne Freeman (D) in the lieutenant governor's race. Windom defeated state Sen. John Amari (R) in a contentious primary in which the two struggled to differentiate themselves. Both held leadership roles on the Senate Insurance Committee, both are attorneys and both switched from the Democratic Party – Amari switched in 1986, Windom 11 months ago. The Alabama Business Council strongly supported Windom for his leadership on tort reform and other business issues. Tort reform advocates see this as a key race, hoping new leadership in the state Senate will introduce a tort reform bill. Recent legislative efforts have stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the bill has gone without a public vote for two years.

    Secretary of State Jim Bennett (R) is defending his seat against Nancy Worley (D), president of the Alabama Education Association. Bennett defeated former state GOP political director Danny Patterson in the primary. This is the first race Bennett has sought as a Republican; he switched parties in January 1997.

    Voters chose nominees for all 35 state senate districts and 105 state house districts on June 2. Legislative races are important this year, as those who are elected to the four-year terms in 1998 will be present for redistricting following the 2000 census.

    Alaska: Primary Races are Set

    Slates are set for the Aug. 25 primaries for governor and lieutenant governor. Incumbent Gov. Tony Knowles faces token Democratic primary challenges from Nels Anderson, Brad Snowden and Don Wright. Snowden initially filed as a Republican, but later withdrew and re-filed as a Democrat.

    Three candidates have filed to run for the GOP nomination, for which millionaire John Lindauer and Senate Majority Leader Robin Taylor are considered the front-runners. Three Alaskan Independence candidates filed as well.

    In the lieutenant governor's race, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer (D) is seeking reelection. Her field of Republican challengers: Virginia Collins, Doyle Holmes, Don Smith and state Sen. Jerry Ward, who is vice chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee.

    Arkansas: Governor Mending Fences with Conservatives

    Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) reportedly is attempting to quell an insurrection by right-wing Republicans who complain that his actions as governor are not conservative enough.

    Huckabee has challenged the argument, citing accomplishments for conservatives during his term. During Huckabee's tenure, churches became eligible for welfare reform grants without any obligation to the government, and he appointed a home school advocate to the state education board. Huckabee also assured conservatives that if he is elected, his education director will work to repeal liberal education laws in 1999.

    Colorado: GOP Primaries Reflect Party Extremes


    Recent Republican and Democratic state party conventions chose candidates for the Aug. 11 primaries. Candidates needed 30 percent of the convention delegate vote, but those who failed to reach the 30 percent threshold but did receive at least 10 percent must collect at least 11,000 petition signatures to gain ballot access in the primary.

    The Republican convention results indicate an ongoing split between social conservatives and social moderates.

  • Governor: State Treasurer Bill Owens (R) captured over 76 percent of the delegates, denying anti-abortion activist Terry Walker a spot on the ballot. Owens will face Senate President Tom Norton in the primary. Norton bypassed the assembly delegate process and has completed the necessary petition signatures.
  • Lieutenant Governor: Conservative state Sen. Jim Congrove won the bid for the top ballot slot. Denver attorney Joe Rogers also garnered 30 percent. Ironically, the first person to enter the race, state Rep. Mike Salaz, did not receive the necessary 30 percent. Neither did Boulder County educator Connie Gaebel, who won 2 percent.
  • Attorney General: El Paso County District Attorney John Suthers took the top-line spot. Joe Smith, a deputy attorney general, also qualified. Senate Majority Leader Jeff Wells fell short with 13 percent, but may consider a petition run. State Sen. Dick Mutzebaugh received 7 percent.
  • Treasurer: State Sen. Mike Coffman was the only candidate to qualify. State Rep. Jeanne Adkins received 23 percent.
  • Secretary of State: Vikki Buckley, an incumbent, was nominated without opposition.

    The following Democratic candidates qualified for the ballot:

  • Governor: State Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley took top-line position over previous the front-runner, Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler. Schoettler supporters said the heavy presence of labor supporters helped Feeley win 10 percent more delegates than the more pro-business Schoettler.
  • Lieutenant Governor: Grand Junction lawyer and businessman Bernie Buescher won the nomination. Second-place finisher Ron Gallegos received only 19 percent.
  • Attorney General: Ken Salazar, former chief of staff of Gov. Roy Romer (D), won the nomination.
  • Treasurer: Jim Polsfut, a onetime staffer for former Denver Mayor and Energy Secretary Federico Peñna, won the nomination.
  • Secretary of State: Former Common Cause executive director Ric Banter qualified for the ballot. State Sen. Joan Johnson plans a petition run.

    Hawaii: Challenger Leads Governor in Recent Poll

    New poll numbers indicate the governor's race may turn into a close contest. The Honolulu Advertiser and Channel 2 conducted a poll in early May showed Linda Lingle leading Ben Cayetano in a general election matchup. The poll surveyed 385 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus five percent. Although the poll came from a small sample, it indicates that the race is becoming much more competitive.

    Kansas: GOP Gubernatorial Primary Draws Attention

    The primary battle between Gov. Bill Graves and former state GOP chair David Miller continues to attract attention in Kansas. Miller is adding campaign staff, but fund raising will determine his credibility. Political observers estimate Miller needs at least $500,000 to campaign effectively against Graves. Miller is expected to get the endorsement of James Dobson, president of the national conservative group Focus on the Family.

    Graves's campaign is trying to show Miller is not a credible challenger. A recent internal poll for the Graves camp shows the incumbent leading Miller, 83 percent to 15 percent. The survey was taken May 18-22 from 500 likely GOP voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. Despite the poll numbers, Graves views Miller as a dangerous threat.

    Maryland: Slot Vote Factors in Primary Fundraising


    Opponents of Gov. Parris Glendening (D) are building significant treasuries for the fall elections. Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann, one of two major challengers to Glendening in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary raked in $300,000 at a Baltimore fund-raiser May 26. Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who endorsed Rehrmann in April. Schmoke was instrumental in persuading about 300 people – mostly business leaders – to pay $1,000 each for the event.

    Attendees included supporters of legalized slot machines in Maryland. They included horse race track owner Joe DeFrancis and bakery magnate John Paterakis. Paterakis, a key contributor in Maryland political circles, wants to build a large hotel in downtown Baltimore, and he'd like casino gambling there someday. Rehrmann has endorsed slot machines at three Maryland racetracks, as has Schmoke. Glendening remains opposed.

    Meanwhile, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) raised about $400,000 at a recent fund-raiser, even though he's virtually unopposed for reelection this fall. Curry hosted the event at his home, and the turnout showed that Curry is seen as a major political player, not only in Prince George's County but statewide. That could mean bad news for the governor, as Curry has never hidden his dislike for Glendening. There is still widespread speculation that Curry will follow Schmoke's lead and endorse Rerhmann in a few weeks. Curry is mum at this point. At best, Glendening's camp hopes Curry will remain neutral.

    Minnesota: Freeman Selects State Rep as Running Mate

    Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, the leading candidate for the Democratic Farm Labor party endorsement for governor, has picked state Rep. Ruth Johnson as his running mate. A first-term representative from St. Peter in southern Minnesota, Johnson brings gender and geographic balance to the ticket. Freeman appears to have the most delegate votes going into the June 6 endorsement balloting at the state DFL convention. Freeman and Attorney General Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III are the only candidates in the six-person Democratic field seeking party endorsements. Other candidates are trying to gain ballot access through by collecting petition signatures.

    Missouri: Signatures Sought on Four Possible Ballot Items

    Four major ballot initiatives currently making the rounds for signatures:

  • Casinos: The petitions seek dockside gaming. SCS sources expect the measure will not only qualify for the November ballot, but likely pass as well.
  • Cockfighting: Opponents of cockfighting want to prohibit the sport in the state. SCS sources do not expect the measure to qualify for the November ballot.
  • Billboard restrictions: Supporters, led by Scenic Missouri, are seeking tighter restrictions on billboards. A billboard industry group called STOP – Stop Taking Our Property organized in May to oppose the initiative. The outlook on the proposed restrictions is unclear.
  • Campaign finance: Liberal Democrats, including former Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods, are circulating a petition to reform Missouri campaign finance laws. The outlook is unclear.

    South Dakota: Hunhoff Selects Running Mate


    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bernie Hunhoff selected a running mate: Elsie Meeks, a Native American woman who runs a store and a rodeo company with her husband at Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. For a decade, Meeks headed the Lakota Fund, a small person-to-person lending network.

    A former Ms. Magazine woman of the year, Meeks is unknown in political circles. Her selection helps Hunhoff solidify support and turnout on Indian reservations, which tend to vote strongly Democratic in South Dakota. Her role also underlines his emphasis on microeconomic development programs. It also focuses the spotlight on Republican Gov. Bill Janklow, who hasn't said whether he'll keep Lt. Gov. Carole Hillard as his running mate.

    Texas: Perry's Stock Purchases Draw Complaints

    U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D) wants the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate stock purchases made by lieutenant governor hopeful Rick Perry (R). Currently state agriculture commissioner, Perry bought stock in 1996 in Kinetic Concepts, a company owned by James Leininger, who has been a longtime political contributor. Perry sold the stock within a month and made a profit of $40,000.

    State Comptroller John Sharp (D), Perry's opponent in the lieutenant governor's race, has made an issue out of the fact that Perry has become a millionaire while holding public office. However, Perry says his money is in a blind trust managed by a Houston stockholder who is an old college buddy, and he has no insider insight into his investments.

    Wisconsin: Kunicki Chooses Legislative Retirement


    After months of denying his retirement, Assembly Minority Leader Wally Kunicki (D) announced he will not seek reelection. The former speaker, who has served nine terms, is also relinquishing the leadership post so someone else can take the reins during the election cycle. A successor is to be chosen this week, and Reps. Shirley Krug of Milwaukee and Mark Meyer of La Crosse appear to be the top contenders. Kunicki offered no hint of future plans, but the buzz is that he will end up in the health care field early next year, possibly as a lobbyist. Ten Assembly Democrats have announced they will not seek reelection so far this year.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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