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    State of Play

    Conn.: Governor Offers Aid For Less Visible Candidates

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Oct. 9, 1998

    Democrats are crying foul and raising ethical arguments over a GOP proposal to use Republican Gov. John Rowland's overflowing campaign coffers to boost down-ballot candidates. State Republican leaders and Rowland campaign staffers want to "loan" money from his sizable war chest to the state GOP, which would in turn offer financial assistance to hopefuls lower on the ballot. Borrowers would pay back the loan after the election.

    With nearly $5 million on hand, Rowland looks likely to win; his challenger, Democratic U.S. Rep. Barbara Kennelly, has been unable to generate much money or enthusiastic support for her bid. Democrats are angry about the loan plan – even though Rowland can legally give money to the party before Nov. 3 – because they say it violates the spirit of campaign finance overhauls. Rowland has also appeared in several television ads in an effort to help state Senate Republicans achieve their goal of taking over the chamber.

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    Florida: GOP Newcomers Hold Edge for Open Cabinet Posts


    While incumbents of both parties hold healthy leads in four statewide Cabinet races, GOP candidates for open Cabinet posts appear to be the front-runners. According to the latest poll, things look good for Republicans seeking the education commissioner and secretary of state spots. In other races, the survey, commissioned by several Florida newspapers and TV stations, showed Attorney General Bob Butterworth (D), Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford (D), Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson (D) and Comptroller Robert Milligan (R) with much higher name recognition than their lesser-known opponents. The poll also showed Republican Katherine Harris leading in the race for secretary of state and former insurance commissioner Tom Gallagher leading in the contest for education commissioner.

    Idaho: Educators 'See' Writing on Blackboard, Decline to Endorse


    The Idaho Education Association (IEA) has opted to stay neutral in the governor's race. Traditionally, the IEA endorses the Democrat running for governor, but the group reversed course this year and did not offer an endorsement to Boise attorney Bob Huntley. U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, the Republican nominee, is strongly favored to win the governor's seat now held by popular Republican Gov. Phil Batt (R). Sources said educators saw the writing on the blackboard.

    Maine: Paper Lobby Frets Over Rumored Endorsements


    The paper industry, one of Maine's most powerful lobbies, reportedly is troubled by rumors that the state Chamber and Business Alliance will endorse two Democrats – state Rep. Steven Rowe for House speaker and state Sen. Mark Lawrence for reelection as Senate president. The paper lobby does not view either Rowe or Lawrence as allies to their business interests – at least compared to their competitors. Several paper companies apparently have considered leaving the organization, which would clearly cause problems as the paper industry makes up a significant portion of the chamber's annual membership dues.

    The business community complained that Rowe took positions viewed as more liberal than expected during the past session – particularly the his stance on dioxin and clear-cutting. Lawrence expressed more interest in non-paper industry issues such as job creation, research and development and health care related to the elderly and children.

    North Carolina: Divided Legislature Expected to Continue


    A North Carolina political research organization predicted the state's General Assembly will continue to be split between the parties after the November election. The North Carolina Forum for Research and Economic Education (NCFREE), a statewide business-oriented firm, released data this month indicating Democrats will retain control of the state Senate, and Republicans will keep control of the state House – a mix sources say has been good for business interests in North Carolina.

    The GOP aimed to take over the Senate, where Democrats hold a 10-seat advantage. The NCFREE data suggested that although Republicans could pick up several seats, they do not have the finances to match the Democrats' war chests. In the House, the GOP is expected to build on its 1-vote majority. Of the 14 seats the group identified as "toss-ups," Democrats would need to win 13 to take control. Republicans need to win only three to retain it. If the legislature remains split between the parties, sources say Democratic state Sen. Marc Basnight will return as President Pro Tempore. Republican state Rep. Harold Brubaker's return as House Speaker is less certain.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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