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    State of Play

    Arkansas: Huckabee's Book Draws Fire

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, June 19, 1998

    Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and his 180-page paperback book, "Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence," are under attack from just about everyone, including editorial writers and the families of the victims killed in the March 24 Jonesboro school shooting.

    Huckabee received a $25,000 advance for the book, which he says had been in the works for some time. Family members of victims accuse the governor of profiting from their tragedies. But he says the shootings will not boost sales, comparing his advance to the revenue generated from ads in newspapers that covered the incident.

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    Hawaii: GOP Gubernatorial Primary Becomes Battle of Mayors


    Former longtime Honolulu mayor Frank Fasi has filed nomination papers to face Maui Mayor Linda Lingle in the Sept. 19 Republican primary for governor. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Ben Cayetano in the Nov. 3 general election. Lingle, who received solid support at the State GOP convention, is expected to defeat Fasi easily in the primary.

    Illinois: Anti-Gaming Crusaders Prepare for 1999

    Leading anti-gaming activists, led by Rev. Tom Grey of northern Illinois, have declared a renewed battle against legislators who want to expand the state's limited number of riverboat casinos. Gaming expansion isn't likely to come up in the fall veto session, but is a sure bet to come up next spring.

    Activists sent questionnaires to all legislative candidates, asking their views on land-based gaming and other simmering issues, and intend to distribute the answers as "voters' guides" to 500,000 Methodist churchgoers statewide.

    Indiana: State Lawmakers Rate Low on the Government Scale


    So much for voters' discontent with Congress. Respondents in a recent Indiana survey gave the state General Assembly lower favorability ratings than both the federal government and the Indianapolis city-county council. TeleResearch surveyed 331 randomly selected respondents for Nuvo Newsweekly, and by a 5-1 margin they gave the General Assembly low marks. Fifty-five percent rated state lawmakers unfavorably, while 11 percent rated them favorably.

    Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith fared better. City residents gave Goldsmith, a Republican who lost the 1996 gubernatorial race to Democrat Frank O'Bannon, a 40 percent approval rating – and a 40 percent disapproval rating. O'Bannon received a 38 percent approval rating and only a 33 percent negative rating, a difference that reflects his margin of victory in Indianapolis/Marion County two years ago.

    Kansas: Another Phelps Files for Statewide Office

    Fred Phelps Jr. – son of the well-known Rev. Fred Phelps – has filed as a Democratic candidate for attorney general. The party responded quickly: State Democratic Treasurer Dan Lykins, a prominent trial lawyer in the Topeka area, reportedly sprinted from his office about a block away to file as well, to make sure Phelps did not make it to the general election by default.

    The senior Phelps filed as a Democratic candidate for governor. The younger Phelps may not share the same views as his father – who is know for picketing anything he believes supports the "homosexual agenda" – but his name alone prompts immediate reaction statewide.

    Kentucky: Patton Mum on Choice for Running Mate

    Gov. Paul Patton has not decided whether Lt. Gov. Steve Henry will join him on the Democratic ticket in 1999. "I have made one decision, and that is that I will run," Patton said. The governor said his hesitation was "pragmatic politics," not a knock against Henry, whom he called a friend and an important element in the administration. Rep. Scotty Baesler defeated Henry in May 26 primary for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.

    This is the first time a Kentucky governor has faced such a choice; a 1992 state constitutional amendment enabled governors to seek a second consecutive term and ended separate elections for lieutenant governor.

    Patton said he would wait until after the November 1998 general election to choose a running mate. The filing deadline is late January for statewide offices on the 1999 ballot.

    Louisiana: Former State Senator Seeks Legal Fee Reimbursement


    The state Senate Finance Committee approved legislation authorizing the state to reimburse former state Sen. B.B. "Sixty" Rayburn for $97,500 in legal bills. Rayburn racked up the debt while defending himself against charges related to the illegal influence of gambling interests at the statehouse.

    Rayburn was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1995 and charged with his influence to video poker interests to help block local option elections. Former state senator Larry Bankston was also charged. Bankston and several others with ties to the video poker industry were convicted in the subsequent trial, but Rayburn was acquitted.

    The committee, which Rayburn chaired for many years before he lost a 1995 reelection bid, approved payment of the legal fees if the attorney general verified the bills. So far, Rayburn has produced canceled checks for $72,500 in legal fees, but no receipts for the other $25,000 he claims he paid his attorney, Arthur "Buddy" Lemann III of New Orleans.

    Maryland: Convicted Lobbyist Still Working the Statehouse

    Onetime Annapolis lobbying kingpin Bruce C. Bereano still faces the possibility of jail time, but he has climbed back into the top ranks of Maryland lobbyists. Bereano took in $433,549 during the last six months, according to lobbying reports filed with the state June 1.

    The filings ranked Bereano fourth overall among lobbyists – up significantly from his rank as 19th in an October tally. At one time, he was the top-earning lobbyist in Annapolis, representing major clients such as the Tobacco Institute. But the Tobacco Institute and several others dropped him after he was convicted in November 1994 in a federal mail-fraud case.

    Bereano, a lawyer, was accused of overcharging clients for $16,000 that he secretly funneled to various political campaigns. He was fined $20,000 and put on five years' probation. Federal prosecutors appealed the decision, saying Bereano should serve prison time. The case awaits a ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

    Missouri: Incumbent GOP Auditor Chooses Not to Run

    State Auditor Margaret Kelly – the only Republican now holding statewide office – will not seek reelection. Attorneys Claire McCaskill and Steve Conway are seeking the Democratic nomination, while Deputy Auditor Charles Pierce is running unopposed for the GOP nod. Insiders expect the race to be hotly contested. The primary is Aug. 4.

    Nebraska: Republicans Want Nelson on Their Team


    National GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, are encouraging Nebraska Gov. Ben Nelson (D) to switch parties. Nelson, who completes his last gubernatorial term in January, has not disclosed his plans – but he has not dismissed the idea.

    If U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey mounts a serious bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, his seat could be a seat up for grabs. Nelson would be a strong Democratic or Republican candidate.

    Nelson, a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who opposes abortion rights and sports a pro-business reputation, lost his 1996 Senate bid to Republican Chuck Hagel.

    Washington: Republicans Expect to Keep Slim Majority

    Republicans in the state Senate will keep their slim 26-23 majority if the Republican floor leader has his way. Conceding that his party must work particularly hard to defend two suburban seats, state Sen. Steve Johnson says he is comfortable this will be a good year for incumbents. When he ran in 1994, Johnson said, voters had lots of ideas and wanted to engage him in debate. This year, everyone seems happy. Voters offer him a quick greeting when he campaigns door to door, then go back to mowing their lawns, he said.

    Wisconsin: Governor Heads Home to Announce Reelection Bid

    Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) returned to his hometown of Elroy, Wis., earlier this month to declare his candidacy for another gubernatorial term. Thompson insisted a fourth term would be his last, but he would not commit to serving the full four years. Thompson is expected to be visible in presidential politics early in 1999, either on his own behalf or someone else's. He remains highly popular and is favored to win reelection.

    Wyoming: Legislator Joins Democratic Race at Last Minute


    The gubernatorial race took a dramatic turn when longtime state Sen. John Vinich threw his hat into the ring half an hour before the filing deadline. Vinich's candidacy immediately established him as the Democratic front-runner and a candidate who could mount a serious challenge to incumbent Gov. Jim Geringer (R).

    Vinich has criticized Geringer's handling of the budget, his views on corrections issues and his efforts at economic development. He joins two other candidates for the Democratic nomination: State Sen. Keith Goodenough and University of Wyoming history professor Phil Roberts. Vinich, who has served 24 years in the legislature and is a member of the Joint Appropriations Committee, previously ran two unsuccessful congressional campaigns. He narrowly lost to Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R) when Wallop was pursuing a third term in the U.S. Senate in 1988. He also lost a 1989 special election to succeed Dick Cheney in the U.S. House.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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