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    State of Play

    Pennsylvania: Governor's Aide Suspended in Embezzlement Probe

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Sept. 18, 1998

    Laurie Simmons, finance director for the reelection bid of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), is the focus of an embezzlement investigation and has been suspended without pay from the campaign. Ridge put her on leave Aug. 10 when PNC Bank reported that $70,000 in campaign funds were diverted to Simmons' personal account. Ridge said the campaign expects to recover all of the missing funds, but gubernatorial challenger Ivan Itkin (D) criticized the governor for taking a month to announce the situation and details of the campaign fund status.

    More State Political News From:
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    California: Low Turnout Could Rout Assembly Democrats


    Insiders expect the combination of low turnout, lower-than-usual Democratic voter rolls and President Clinton's political problems to bring major Republican gains this fall. Republicans hope to pick up the four seats necessary to recapture control of the state Assembly, which they held from 1994 to 1996. The key battlegrounds include: the open 53rd District, now held by Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D); the open 31st, now held by Speaker Cruz Bustamante (D); and the seats held by 56th District Assemblywoman Sally Havice and 78th District Assemblyman Howard Wayne, both Democrats. Republicans must still hold their own marginal seats – District 28, held by Assemblyman Peter Frusetta (R); District 69, held by GOP Assemblyman Jim Morrissey; and open seats in Districts 35 and 54. The pressure to raise the necessary campaign funds for those targets will be highest for Republican leaders Bill Leonard in the Assembly and Ross Johnson in the Senate.

    Louisiana: Governor Creates New "Foster $500"Donor Category


    Gov. Mike Foster (R) has begun raising money for a possible 1999 reelection bid, creating a special category for $500 contributors. Last year, Foster's campaign started a "Governor's Club" aimed at lining up $5,000 contributors. This month, the campaign created a "Foster 500" effort to urge backers to give $500 contributions in 1998 and 1999. Foster reportedly began 1998 with $1.1 million in his campaign account.

    Massachusetts: AG Primary Race Bitter, Close and Won by Reilly


    Tom Reilly (D) defeated state Sen. Lois Pines (D) in a bitter, down-to-the-wire finish in the primary for attorney general. Reilly, considered the favorite in the general election against Brad Bailey (R), is the Middlesex County district attorney. He prosecuted British au pair Louise Woodward in connection with the February 1997 death of Matthew Eappen. Reilly was criticized for seeking first-degree murder charges against Woodward.

    New York: Democrats Fill Statewide Tickets in Primaries


    New York Democrats got a clearer picture of this fall's ballot after the Sept. 15 primaries. New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D) overwhelmingly defeated Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes and former transportation commissioner James Larocca for the Democratic gubernatorial nod. All four GOP statewide candidates – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller – faced no primary opposition.

    Vallone faces incumbent Gov. George Pataki (R), who is both well-financed and highly favored, in the fall. Ross continues her lagging bid as the Liberal Party nominee, which some fear could cut into support for the Democratic ticket. In the lieutenant governor's race, Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel defeated Plattsburgh Mayor Clyde Rabideau and New York City lawyer Charlie King for the Democratic nomination. She endorsed Hynes in the gubernatorial primary, while Vallone endorsed third-place finisher Rabideau for lieutenant governor. Pataki choose his running mate, Mary Donohue (R), a former state Supreme Court Justice, prior to the state GOP convention.

    In November, Attorney General Dennis Vacco (R) faces Manhattan lawyer Eliot Spitzer (D); Comptroller Carl McCall (D) runs against state Assemblyman John Faso (R).

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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