The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

Related Items
  • State of Play

  • Early Returns

  • Campaigns

    State of Play

    Campaign Finance Overhaul Takes Shape in Alaska, Ill.

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Aug. 21, 1998

    As the states are showing, changing the campaign finance system isn't just a national issue – but individual states definitely have their own priorities. While Alaska is seeking to rid the system of restrictions, Illinois is adopting more stringent guidelines.

    Alaska: Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton threw Alaska's campaign finance regulations for a loop just two weeks before the Aug. 25 gubernatorial primary when he threw out a new campaign finance law on Aug. 10. The measure, approved by voters in 1996, banned all corporate and union donations and cut maximum individual contributions from $1,000 to $500. The law also prohibited lobbyists from giving to candidates who live outside their House districts and cut donations from non-Alaskan residents. In addition, the law did not allow state parties to accept more than $5,000 per individual annually, and limited the parties' ability to give to candidates. Now candidate fund-raising will not be limited unless a state appeal succeeds, or if a stay blocks the ruling.

    In the Alaska Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit to overturn the law, attorney Jon Rubini argued that the measure strongly limited a candidate's ability to communicate with voters and crippled political party activities. Wolverton ruled it unconstitutional, saying the law violates the First Amendment guarantees of free speech, expression and association.

    Illinois: Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar (R) has signed a campaign finance reform package passed in the final hours of the spring session. The legislation is not as strong as many supporters had sought, but it represents the most sweeping overhaul to the state's largely unregulated campaign finance system in 25 years. The measure forbids lawmakers to accept campaign contributions on state property, prohibits them from taking donations within a 50-mile radius of Springfield during legislative sessions, requires donor disclosures to include occupation and employer names and broadly bans gifts to incumbents. Illinois remains one of three states nationwide that does not regulate the amount of money donors may give, or who can contribute.

    More State Political News From:
    California | Connecticut | Hawaii | Iowa | Kansas | Mississippi
    Nebraska | New Hampshire | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio
    South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Vermont

    California: Presidential Visit Fills Davis' Coffers


    The fund-raising lead Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, holds over his Republican rival, Attorney General Dan Lungren, grew by about $3 million last week. President Clinton attended four Davis fund-raisers – two in the Bay Area and two in Los Angeles, including a $25,000-a-plate dinner hosted by DreamWorks executives Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Davis holds a slight lead over Lungren in the polls. Both candidates are expected to spend a combined $40 million before the November election.

    Connecticut: Andrews Faces IRS Investigation

    The Internal Revenue Service is investigating Republican secretary of state hopeful Ben Andrews. Andrews, a former head of the state chapter of the NAACP, allegedly owes back taxes of $100,000; he denies the charges. Earlier this month, Republican Antonio Serbia, who was running for state comptroller, quit the race after it surfaced that he had lied on his résumé and had been indicted for bank fraud in Puerto Rico.

    Hawaii: Polls Show Support for Same-Sex Marriage Ban

    Recent polls indicate overwhelming support for a ballot issue to ban same-sex marriages. In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin/NBC News poll conducted Aug. 4-7, 63 percent of respondents said they oppose gay marriages, while 24 percent favored their legalization. Lawmakers placed the issue on this year's ballot in an attempt to head off a state Supreme Court ruling that would legalize same-gender marriage. A state circuit judge ruled in 1996 that Hawaii must issue official marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the case is being appealed to the high court.

    Iowa: Tobacco Suit Draws Republican Ire

    Mark Schwickerath (R), an attorney battling incumbent Tom Miller (D) in the Iowa attorney general race, said Miller has taken the state on "uncertain, questionable legal adventures." Miller has abandoned pursuing the tobacco industry's research of candy cigarette use, but he is still trying to negotiate a settlement for the state with cigarette makers. Schwickerath, who was nominated at the state convention, said he will focus on Iowa's crime and drug problems.

    Kansas: Moderate Sweep Leaves Little Room for Miller


    Kansas conservatives are dusting themselves off after the moderate Republican landslide in the Aug. 8 primary. Primary loser David Miller, former chairman of the Kansas GOP, said he wants to get involved with the party again. But with moderates back in control, chances are slim they will want him back.

    The moderate sweep makes the race for next session's speaker of the House interesting. Ultra-conservative Speaker Pro Tem Susan Wagle (R) and the somewhat conservative House Majority Leader Robin Jennison (R) are both seeking the post for the 1999 session. Rep. Kent Glasscock (R), a moderate, picked up some primary support that could make centrists a force to deal with next session. It is uncertain whether Glasscock has enough backing to win the speakership, but he could form an alliance with Jennison for a share of the power. In the Kansas House, the speaker appoints committee chairmen and members and designates which committees the House operates.

    Mississippi: Voter ID Petitions Seek 1999 Ballot Slot

    The secretary of state's office certified a Republican-proposed ballot initiative that, if adopted as a constitutional amendment, would require voters to show identification at the polls. If a circuit court does not strike the wording, the state GOP must collect 100,000 signatures within a year to secure a slot for the issue on the 1999 ballot.

    Nebraska: Johanns Rides Above GOP Party Flap


    Lincoln Mayor Mike Johanns, Republican gubernatorial nominee, has apparently remained untarnished by an intra-party flap between moderates and Christian conservatives. The public feud between the factions, which reverberated for a couple of weeks after the party's state convention, has settled down.

    Conservative leaders have vowed to support moderate candidates, including Johanns. Democratic candidate Bill Hoppner has accused Johanns of exhibiting poor leadership for flip-flopping his position on a major petition initiative to limit the growth of government spending. Though both candidates now oppose the business-led measure, Hoppner challenged Johanns' credibility. The state's largest newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, disagreed with Hoppner and took him to task in an editorial, saying that how the candidates arrived at their positions shouldn't be a campaign issue.

    New Hampshire: Union-Leader Endorses Rubens

    The Manchester Union-Leader endorsed Sen. Jim Rubens of Hanover on Aug. 10 over four others seeking the GOP nod, creating a major event in the otherwise quiet Republican gubernatorial race. The endorsement is noteworthy, as Rubens supports abortion rights and the Union-Leader traditionally backs candidates who oppose abortion. The move should help Rubens win support among social conservatives, who make up a big part of the primary turnout.

    North Carolina: Session Length Restrictions Sought

    The House Rules Committee approved a bill last week to limit the length of legislative sessions. The Senate generated the legislation, but the version approved by the House rules committee is quite different. The House substituted a proposal to limit legislative sessions to 120 days with a one-time, 10-day extension. The Senate bill also contained a provision to expand the current two-year Senate terms to four years. Most upper chambers in the country allow four-year terms for senators, while mainly lower chambers have two-year terms. The House previously killed legislation calling for the four-year terms.

    North Dakota: Legendary Legislator Dies at age 93

    A longtime member of the North Dakota Legislature, Brynhild Haugland, has died at the age of 93. She served more than 50 years in the legislature, first elected to the Minot delegation in 1938 and retiring in 1989. Haugland was known as a quiet but persuasive leader, and was given the North Dakota Rough Rider award in 1994.

    Ohio: Taft Leads Fisher in Campaign Cash


    Secretary of State Bob Taft, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, leads his Democratic opponent, former attorney general Lee Fisher, in fund-raising. Fisher took in $1.8 million during the past two months but trailed by $1.6 million according to the latest disclosure reports. Taft raised considerably less – $787,523 – from June 12 to July 31.

    Fisher's campaign manager said his fund-raising efforts reflect the strength of his field operation and his petition drive to urge state lawmakers to restructure the managed care industry. Taft's press secretary said a fund-raiser with Vice President Al Gore and labor donations were the key to his success.

    South Carolina: Statehouse Sports New Dome, Renovations

    The South Carolina Statehouse unveils its new look this week. This weekend marks the reopening of the Statehouse after a three-year renovation process. Legislators are looking forward to returning to the Statehouse after operating in the Carolina Plaza hotel, which is owned by the University of South Carolina. Wheelchair accessibility and a new copper dome, which was fabricated in Charleston, are among the improvements.

    South Dakota: Hillard's Role Remains in Question

    Questions surrounding Republican Gov. Bill Janklow's running mate have resurfaced with the release of campaign materials featuring only his name. Earlier speculation over whether Lt. Gov. Carole Hillard (R) would remain on Janklow's ticket continued right up until the state Republican nominating convention. However, the absence of Hillard's name on new campaign paraphernalia has renewed old speculation. Four years ago, Janklow prominently featured Hillard as his running mate on promotional materials and bumper stickers. The Janklow-Hillard ticket faces Democratic challenger Bernie Hunhoff and his running mate, Elsie Meeks, as well as a Libertarian ticket and an Independent ticket.

    Tennessee: Hooker Plans to Hit the Campaign Trail on Foot

    Self-proclaimed political gadfly John Jay Hooker of Nashville won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination Aug. 6 and plans a "grassroots" campaign to challenge heavily favored Republican Gov. Don Sundquist's reelection this fall. Hooker easily defeated lawyer Mike Whitaker of Covington, 41 percent to 28 percent, as well as five also-rans, for the nomination. Hooker said the next day that his campaign will focus on two issues: that large campaign contributions are "bribes" and that Tennessee's retention election system for appellate court judges should be eliminated. Whitaker had emphasized managed health care reform and long-term care for the elderly. Hooker said he plans to hit the road around Labor Day, campaigning like he did as the 1970 Democratic nominee – on foot.

    Vermont: Poll Shows Dean With Huge Lead in Governor's Race


    A poll conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research in Washington D.C., in conjunction with the Rutland Herald/WCAX, showed Gov. Howard Dean (D) with a 45-point lead over potential opponent Bernie Rome (R). Dean led the other Republican candidate, Ruth Dwyer, by 36 points. Dwyer leads Rome heading into the Sept. 8 primary.

    In the race for lieutenant governor, the poll showed incumbent Doug Racine with a 4-point lead over his challenger, Barbara Snelling, a former lieutenant governor with high name recognition. The survey also showed Vermonters split over Act 60, the state's controversial education funding law.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

    Back to the top

    Navigation Bar
    Navigation Bar