Three of 10 Southern governors predict that their states' legislators will refuse to ratify a proposed constitutional amendment giving the Districtof Columbia full voting representation in Congress.
As Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards put it to a lobbyist for the amendment: "We just don't think this proposal is consistent with the best interests of our state. That's a polite way of saying, 'Hell no.'"
Of the governors interviewed at the Southern Governors' Conference here, those from Virginia, Mississippi, and Louisiana said they see no chance the amendment will be ratified in their states. A fourth governor, Julian M. Carroll of Kentucky, said he opposes the amendment but has not assessed its support in the Kentucky legislature.
None of the governors would predict ratification in their states, but five, from Texas, Delaware, Arkansas, NOrth Carolina and West Virginia, said they personally favor the amendment. Those five and South Carolina Gov. James B. Edwards, who said he has not yet formed an opinion, said D.C. representation has so far received so little attention in their states that prospects for ratification are impossible to predict.
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace said he has not given the D.C. issue any thought and will not form an opinionon it befor his term ends in January. He said he could not hazard a guess as to how the Alabama legislature will act on it.
The governors of Maryland, Missouri and Oklahoma did not attend the conference and those from Georgia, Florida and Tennessee made only brief appearances and were not available for interviews.
Thirty-seven more states - New Jersey already has ratified - must approve the proposed amendment during the next seven years to make it a part of the Constitution. This means that opposition from 13 state legislatures can kill the proposal.
State executives attending the National Governors' Conference in Boston last month expressed support of the D.C. amendment by voice vote, but the issue has not been a topic of discussion here.
Melanie Woolston of the Association for Self Determination for D.C. came to Hilton Head to lobby for the proposal but was not pushing for endorsements. "I'm just here to gather intelligence and provide information," she said.
The proposed amendment would treat Washington as if it were a state for purposes of congressional representation, and clearly the most controversial aspect of it among the southern governors is the two Senate seats, it would give Washington.
Kentucky's Carroll cited full Senate representation as the reason for his opposition. A spokesman for Gov. Cliff Finch of Mississippi said that it also was the cause of most of the opposition from legislators in his state. "We feel that the large number of small states in the Northeast already has resulted in an over-representation of that region in the Senate," the spokesman said.
Mississippi's powerful House Speaker C.B. (Buddy) Newman has declared that the proposed amendment will not be ratified in that state.