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    State of Play

    Governor Not the Only High-Profile Race in California

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, July 10, 1998

    This year's gubernatorial race in California is particularly pivotal, as the successor to term-limited Gov. Pete Wilson (R) will influence redistricting for the next decade. Lt. Gov. Gray Davis (D) faces Attorney General Dan Lungren (R) this fall. If Davis wins and Democrats retain control of the state legislature, it would be the first time since 1978 that one party controlled the legislative and executive branches. Before the election, though, Davis needs to rebuild his financial resources, which were depleted in an notoriously expensive primary race.

    But there are a host of other key contests as well. Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Cruz Bustamente has a good shot at becoming the first Latino elected to statewide office in California. Bustamente, a former Assembly speaker, faces conservative state Sen. Tim Leslie (R).

    The campaign for secretary of state is the only statewide contest in which an incumbent, Bill Jones (R) is seeking reelection. He faces Democrat Michela Alioto, a former aide to Vice President Gore who lost a 1996 bid for the 1st District congressional seat.

    For state treasurer, Assemblyman Curt Pringle (R), another former Assembly speaker, faces Phil Angelides (D). Pringle has been vetted as a possible gubernatorial candidate in the future. The attorney general's race features former state Senate President Bill Lockyer (D) and former legislator David Sterling (R).

    All 80 Assembly seats and 20 of the 40 Senate seats are up in November. Term limits will oust almost 30 incumbents from the legislature, where Democrats control both the Assembly and Senate. Observers predict Democrats will retain the Senate, but doubt whether they will keep control of the Assembly. At least 10 seats are listed as tossups, putting Democrats' current 43-37 advantage at risk. Several committee chairs and leaders cannot run again, so legislative priorities may change even if control does not.

    Key Race: California Governor

    More State Political News From:
    Arizona | Arkansas | Delaware | Florida | Iowa
    Massachusetts | Nevada | Ohio | Oregon | Texas | Wisconsin

    Arizona: GOP Primaries Heat Up Election Action


    Two Republican primary races – for corporation commissioner and attorney general – have become quite competitive. State Treasurer Tony West and security firm owner Gary Carnicle will face off in a Sept. 8 primary for an open seat on the three-member state Corporation Commission. The winner will cast the deciding vote for the commission's chairman, a post sought by the two other current commissioners, Carl Kunasek and Jim Irvin – both of whom have chosen sides in the GOP primary. The squabble could help the lone Democrat in the November race, state Rep. Paul Newman (D).

    The GOP primary for attorney general has state Sen. John Kaites and former assistant attorney general Tom McGovern battling to claim the title of "most conservative." The winner faces Janet Napolitano (D), former U.S. attorney for Arizona. Attorney General Grant Woods (R) is retiring.

    Arkansas: Term Limits Will Bring New Faces to Little Rock

    All 100 House seats and 18 of the 35 Senate seats in the Arkansas General Assembly are up this November. The elections will bring substantial turnover, as a 1992 term-limit law is pushing almost half of the House members out of office. In 2000, almost one-third of the Senate will be affected. Though Democrats will continue to control the House and Senate, the GOP is expected to pick up several open seats this year.

    Delaware: Treasurer's Race to be Expensive, Heated


    The state treasurer's race looks to be Delaware's most competitive statewide race this fall. Incumbent Janet Rzewnicki (R) is facing voters after losing her 1996 gubernatorial bid to Gov. Tom Carper (D). Money will be a major factor in her campaign against financial executive Jack Markell (D), who some say has raised more already than Rzewnicki has ever spent on a campaign for treasurer. The race for attorney general features a reelection bid by popular incumbent Jane Brady (R), and two Wilmington attorneys, David Finger and John Dorsey, are seeking the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 12 primary.

    Republicans are looking forward to 2000, when term limits will prevent Carper from running again. The GOP is awash with candidates, though no one leads the crowd at the moment. House Speaker Terry Spence (R) is expected to announce in early 1999. On the Democratic side, many say Lt. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has the inside track. Two other Democrats are also in the mix: Tom Gordon, a New Castle County chief executive, and Gary Hindes, a former state party chairman.

    Florida: Running Mates are Named in Key Gubernatorial Race

    The Florida gubernatorial race is among the most closely watched in the country. Term limits bar Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) from seeking reelection, and his 1994 opponent, Jeb Bush (R), is back and will likely face Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay, the Democratic front-runner.

    MacKay has chosen former state Sen. Rick Dantzler, his former rival for the Democratic nomination, as his running mate, making state Rep. Keith Arnold MacKay's only primary opponent. Bush's choice of running mate, State Education Commissioner Frank Brogan (R), opens up the race for his post. Secretary of State Sandra Mortham (R), Bush's first choice for the ticket, is now seeking reelection and running against state Sen. Katherine Harris in the Sept. 1 GOP primary. Miami lawyer Karen Grieves (D) is also running.

    Key Race: Florida Governor

    Iowa: GOP Hopes to Continue Dominance in State Leadership


    With Republican Terry Branstad retiring after 16 years as governor, state GOP leaders are seeking to retain the seat they have held for three decades. U.S. Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot (R) and running mate Almo Hawkins are the favorites in the race. Hawkins has been called the first major-party African-American candidate for lieutenant governor in Iowa. Democratic state Sen. Tom Vilsack and running mate Sally Pederson hope to break the Republican hold on the top spot.

    In the open race for secretary of state, Deputy Secretary of State John Gilliland (R) faces high school government teacher Chet Culver (D), whose father is former U.S. senator John Chester Culver (D).

    All 100 House seats and the odd-numbered districts in the 50-seat Senate are up in November. While sources predict Republicans will retain their Senate majority, GOP control of the state House will be much more tenuous, due to 12 open seats as a result of retirements.

    Massachusetts: Attorney General Race Heating Up

    One the most contentious races in Massachusetts is for attorney general, as the incumbent, Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (D) is running for governor. State Sen. Lois Pines (D) will face Middlesex County District Attorney Tom Reilly (D) in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. The Democratic nominee will be an automatic favorite in the general election contest against Republican Brad Bailey.

    Nevada: Parties Vie for State Senate Control

    All of Nevada's 42 Assembly seats and 11of 21 state Senate seats are up in November. The Senate, currently controlled by Republicans, will have several competitive races, leaving partisan control up in the air. Democrats are counting on a strong presence at the top of the ticket to help them take control, while sources say they are likely to retain the majority in the Assembly.

    Ohio: Statewide Races to be Competitive Across the Ballot


    With Gov. George Voinovich (R) seeking election to the U.S. Senate, the governor's race is the marquee attraction on Ohio's 1998 statewide ballot. Secretary of State Bob Taft (R) is facing former Attorney General Lee Fisher (D) in what is predicted to be a very competitive race. Taft, from Cincinnati, is the great-grandson of President William Howard Taft and grandson and son of former U.S. senators. Fisher has done well raising funds to match Taft's personal wealth and looks to be resonating well with Democrats. The governor sits on an apportionment board that redraws legislative districts after each census, and Republicans want to retain control of the board. Sources predict that most of the statewide races could go to the party that draws out voters in the gubernatorial race. Taft is running with Maureen O'Connor (R). Fisher's running mate is Columbus City Council President Michael Coleman (D).

    The contest for secretary of state features Republican state Treasurer Ken Blackwell and Democrat Charleta Tavares. Blackwell agreed to back out of an earlier gubernatorial primary challenge to Taft in exchange for significant party support in this race.

    The campaign for state treasurer is also interesting, with Republican Joseph Deters, a Hamilton County prosecutor, hoping to move into statewide office. A staunch conservative best known for his prosecution of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, Deters hopes to work his way up to higher office in the future. His opponent, Democrat John Donofrio, says he is seeking the office for the job, not to move up in politics. Another race to watch is for attorney general, in which incumbent Betty Montgomery (R) is favored. However, challenger Richard Cordray (D), former state solicitor to Fisher, Montgomery's predecessor, could raise significant funds.

    Key Race: Ohio Governor

    Oregon: Ballot Initiatives Hope to Boost Voter Turnout

    The various ballot initiatives in Oregon may prove to be the real draw for voters this fall. Several high-profile ballot issues include prohibiting state public employee unions from collecting dues through payroll deduction, using lottery dollars for parks and salmon restoration and allowing use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. All of these issues are likely to bring more progressive voters to the polls, helping down-ballot legislative races. Several conservative issues, such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage issues, did not make the 1998 ballot.

    Texas: Hot Elections Shaping Up Across the Ballot


    Gov. George W. Bush (R) is seeking a second term, saying the 2000 presidential race is waiting in the wings. Bush, son of former president George Bush, faces Land Commissioner Garry Mauro (D) in the fall. But the real test may be the strength of Bush's coattails. The race for lieutenant governor is one of the hottest and closest contests on the ballot this election cycle. If Republican Rick Perry wins, he will likely attempt to pass bills dear to the hearts of the state's social conservatives, such as private school vouchers. If Democrat John Sharp wins, more attempts to overhaul the state's tax system are likely.

    Another critical race is for attorney general, which pits former attorney general Jim Mattox (D), against John Cornyn, a rising star in the Republican Party. Many expect a bruising battle; Mattox has higher name identification, which will motivate Cornyn to play aggressively – exactly the type of campaign he is famous for running. Even Democrats privately say that Mattox is a bygone relic of his party, but staunch supporters point out that he represented the party at a time when it dominated the state.

    Another race that bears watching is for railroad commissioner, one of the offices that oversees the once powerful oil and gas industry. As the state becomes less reliant on this business, the commission has become less of a political factor. But it could hold some promise for Republican inroads among Hispanics. Republican Tony Garza, a Bush protégé, faces Democrat Joe B. Henderson and could become the first Republican Hispanic elected statewide.

    All 150 state House seats and 16 of 31 state Senate seats are up in November. The House is controlled by Democrats and will likely remain that way, but Republicans are working hard to win a majority. Sources say that even if the GOP took control, House Speaker Pete Laney (D) could get enough Republicans to support him. Several longtime Democratic committee chairs are retiring. The Senate will remain Republican, although the winner of the lieutenant governor's race will have a substantial say in the Senate's activities.

    Wisconsin: Parties Battle for Legislative Control

    All 99 Assembly seats and 17 of Wisconsin's 33 Senate seats are up in November. A large number of legislators are retiring, so Republican control of both chambers is being tested. Democrats are focusing on the two seats they need to take back the Senate majority they lost in a special election earlier this year. Democrats also are hoping to take over the Assembly, but Republicans are likely to retain control.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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