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    State of Play

    Calif.: First Latino GOP Assembly Leader in Century

    State Capital Strategies
    Friday, Nov. 13, 1998

    Assemblyman Rod Pacheco is the first Latino Republican to serve as a caucus leader in either chamber of the California Assembly this century. He is also the first Latino Republican elected to the Assembly this century. Pacheco succeeds Assemblyman Bill Leonard (R), who resigned Nov. 4 after the caucus lost five Assembly seats. His counterpart is Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who was unanimously reelected speaker by the Democratic caucus. The election of both leaders further signifies the increasing clout of Latinos in California politics. On Nov. 3, former Assembly speaker Cruz Bustamante (D) became the first Latino to be elected to statewide office in 100 years.

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    Rhode Island | Utah

    Alabama: Democrats May Try To Strip Power From Lt. Gov.


    Democrats, who hold the majority in the state Senate, are likely to tussle with newly elected lieutenant governor Steve Windom (R). When the 1999 legislative session begins, Democratic leaders may strip Windom's powers if they decide they want another Democrat making committee appointments for the chamber. Late last session, Democratic leaders discussed changing the rules to take appointive powers from the lieutenant governor and give them to the majority and minority whips. Senate Democrats have enough votes to change the rules.

    Idaho: House Speaker Battle Gets Under Way


    The race for state House speaker is under way following former House speaker Mike Simpson's election to the 2nd Congressional District last week. Republican House Majority Leader Bruce Newcomb and Assistant House Majority Leader Tom Loertscher want the job, but sources say Newcomb has the edge. In the race for House majority leader, Rep. Frank Bruneel of Lewiston will likely challenge House Caucus Chairman John Tippetts of Bennington, the front-runner. Rep. Paul Kjellander of Boise is considered the favorite for House Caucus Chairman, but sources say it is unclear who will lead the contest for House assistant majority leader. No changes are expected in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Democrats lost one of their five seats in the 35-seat chamber, as Lewiston Republican Joe Stegner won the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Bruce Sweeney.

    Maine: Women Control History and Majority

    Twelve of the 20 Senate Democrats elected to office for 1999 are women – the first time in any state that the state Senate's majority party is controlled by women.

    New York: 'Grandpa' Guides the Greens


    The Green Party moved closer to official ballot status in New York. As results trickled in from absentee ballots, Green party organizers expected to garner the necessary 50,000 votes for their gubernatorial candidate, Al Lewis, who played the role of Grandpa on "The Munsters" television show. Official party status would give the Greens an automatic spot on the ballot for the next four years. The Independence Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the Right-to-Life Party are the other minor parties that currently have official ballot status in New York.

    Rhode Island: Assault Charges Don't Diminish Kelly's Power


    Convicted a month ago of assaulting his wife, Senate Majority Leader Paul S. Kelly (D) was praised by his Senate colleagues Nov. 7 as they reelected him to one of state government's most powerful jobs. Sentenced to 40 hours of counseling after pleading no contest to domestic assault in District Court Oct. 6, Kelly defended his post against a challenge by Sen. Joseph Montalbano (D). Kelly won reelection by a 25-16 vote of the Democratic Senate Caucus.

    Utah: Leavitt Looking To Third Term?


    The 2000 gubernatorial race looks to be well within the reach of Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt – if he wants it. A poll conducted last month by Dan Jones and Associates indicated that a large majority of Utah voters would support Leavitt for a third four-year term. The survey also showed that 40 percent of Democratic respondents wanted Leavitt to run again. In 1996, Democratic Party officials had a hard time finding even a token candidate to run against the popular governor. Leavitt is now focused on organizing a presidential primary for Rocky Mountain states in 2000. Leavitt had been rumored to be interested in a U.S. Senate race, but Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is likely to run again in 2000.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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