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    State of Play

    Arizona: House Hopeful
    Antes Up for Nomination

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Sept. 25, 1998

    The stakes in this card game were clear: the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat. Lobbyist David Mendoza played a game of five-card stud for the right to replace congressional candidate John Cox, who died earlier this month after suffering a stroke. Cox was challenging Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, who represents the 1st District. The secretary of state's office ruled that the Democrats could choose a replacement candidate, but Democratic leaders were divided over Mendoza and another candidate. When the group met to resolve the issue, they decided that a round of poker would settle it. Mendoza won.

    More State Political News From:
    Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Louisiana | Missouri
    New Hampshire | Nevada | Rhode Island | Wisconsin

    Delaware: Governor's Pick for Chancery Draws Heavy Flak


    Gov. Tom Carper (D) has encountered heavy opposition to nominating his legal counsel, Leo Strine Jr., to a prized seat on the state's nationally known Chancery Court. Critics, including some of the Senate Democratic Caucus members, have said that at 33, Strine is too young and inexperienced. In addition, his role as a policy advocate with the governor has put him at odds with some influential lawmakers and corporate community leaders. A special session of the Senate to consider the nomination, which has not yet been formally submitted, is scheduled Oct. 13.

    Florida: Defeated Secretary of State Makes Smooth Career Move


    Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, defeated in the Republican primary by state Sen. Katherine Harris, has secured a new job when her term tends. Mortham reportedly will work as a lobbyist for Katz, Kutter, Haigler, a Tallahassee law firm considered to be one of the state's most powerful. Mortham adds Republican ties and bipartisan credibility to the firm, which has a long-standing association with Democrats. Like many other law firms in the state capital, Katz has hired prominent Republicans to ensure access in the new era of GOP legislative dominance.

    Webster Deflects Senate Presidency Rumors: Meanwhile, state Senator-elect Daniel Webster insists he is not entering office with a six-year plan to become Senate president. Many veteran lawmakers worried that Webster, now House Speaker, would push to ascend as soon as President Toni Jennings's term expires in 2000. But Webster said he will not push for the chairmanships – such as Ways and Means or Rules – that would chart a path toward the presidency.

    Georgia: Big State Races Drawing Close – With Some Exceptions


    Recent polls on the gubernatorial race show GOP nominee Guy Millner and Democratic state Rep. Roy Barnes virtually tied. That's bad news for Millner, who has spent $2.5 million since the July 21 primary – much of it on a television ad campaign calling Barnes "too liberal for Georgia." Most statewide races appear to be very close; insiders concur with polls that project the governor's race, the lieutenant governor's race and several other statewide contests will be decided by only a few percentage points.

    There are, however, two exceptions: School Superintendent Linda Schrenko (R) and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R). A recent poll showed Schrenko leading her opponent by 27 points and Oxendine leading his by 18. Both candidates, virtually unknown and running skeleton campaigns, first won election in the GOP's 1994 nationwide sweep. Controversies – mostly of her own making – have kept Schrenko extremely visible during her term. Oxendine has become the most prodigious fund-raiser in the history of his office. Most expect them to easily win reelection Nov. 3.

    Louisiana: Competitors Lining Up for 1999 Governor's Race Although rumors persist that Gov. Mike Foster (R) is quietly organizing his 1999 campaign, as many as seven names have been circulated as possible opponents. Possible Foster opponents include former governor Edwin Edwards (D), Attorney General Richard Ieyoub (D), U.S. Rep. Bill Jefferson (D), and former lieutenant governor Melinda Schweggmann (D). The name of another possible candidate – state Rep. Ken Hollis (R) – was vetted last week by the political website If Foster decides not to seek rerelection, sources suggest U.S. Sen. John Breaux (D) and U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery (R) will consider a bid.

    Missouri: GOP Leads Tax-Cut Clamor, Triggers Budget Battle

    State Republican leaders on Sept. 16 called for a $300 million personal income tax cut – kicking off the annual budget battle in Jefferson City. The top state income tax bracket is 6 percent; Republican lawmakers want to cut personal income taxes by a half-percent. Republicans accuse Gov. Mel Carnahan (D) of repeatedly underestimating budget numbers and in the process producing tax refunds that remain well below the state's revenue projections – a position echoed by the GOP-controlled auditor's office. A spokesman for the governor called the allegations "irresponsible and grandstanding." Carnahan will present his budget in January.

    New Hampshire: Race Is On For Senate Presidency


    Three moderate Republican state senators who survived stiff challenges from conservative opponents are making run at the open Senate presidency. Republican Sen. Joe Delahunty's departure created the competition among Sens. Ned Gordon (R), Rick Russman (R) and James Squires (R).

    A conservative legislator, Sen. Dave Wheeler (R-Milford) is also interested in the post. Wheeler's primary victory has won him some new allies, but the general election will determine who has the momentum – and the votes – to claim the top chamber post.

    Nevada: Successful Female Candidates Challenge State History

    Just 16 years after Nevada elected its first woman to Congress, the state ballot is flush with female candidates. In the state, which was the last in the West to allow women to vote and hold office – in 1914 – seven women won nominations for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. House, attorney general, and controller. Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, tops the ticket. In addition, three women are running unopposed for state Supreme Court seats.

    Rhode Island: AFL-CIO Neutrality Helps GOP Governor

    Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) received a significant boost when the traditionally Democratic AFL-CIO announced it will remain neutral in this fall's elections. Almond and Lt. Gov. Bernard Jackvony (R) face Democrats Myrth York (D) and her running mate, state Sen. Charles Fogarty (D). The union supported York four years ago in her first challenge to Almond.

    Wisconsin: Election, Loyalties Could Alter Senate Leadership


    Depending on the outcome of the elections and shifting loyalties, Senate Republicans could have a new leader. Sen. Bob Welch, who represents a mostly rural district west of Oshkosh, has been lining up support to challenge Majority Leader Mike Ellis. Welch, a conservative activist, served as assistant minority leader in 1993 and was the party's nominee for U.S. Senate in 1994. Ellis is a strong-willed leader but critics say he has spent too little time on his position and allowed the governor's top aides to negotiate budget terms with Senate Democrats last spring without involving Senate Republicans. Welch, who is younger, is regarded as more conservative and less willing to compromise than Ellis. With three open seats, newcomers could help decide this potential contest. If the GOP hangs on to Senate control, sources predict Welch will continue as majority leader.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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