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North Carolina picks Easley

Indiana re-elects Gov. O'Bannon

In this story:

Wise most vulnerable GOP incumbent

Incumbents face tough campaigns

Three women running for top office

Other state races


(CNN) -- CNN estimates that North Carolina voters have chosen Democratic Attorney General Mike Easley to succeed the popular Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt.

Easley is opposed by Republican Richard Vinroot, who was making his second gubernatorial race.

Democrat Mike Easley takes North Carolina  

Easley was elected attorney general in 1992, and was re-elected in 1996 with 60 percent of the vote.

CNN also estimates that Indiana voters have re-elected Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, the owner of a newspaper publishing company who has spent 30 years in state government.

O'Bannon, 70, was challenged by Republican Rep. David McIntosh, 42, who chose to leave his U.S. House seat to seek the top spot in his home state.

O'Bannon served 18 years as a legislator in the Indiana Senate, 11 of those as the Democratic floor leader. He followed that with eight years as lieutenant governor before his first term as governor, which he won in 1996 with 52 percent of the vote.

O'Bannon had a comfortable lead over McIntosh in polls taken in mid-October. A Libertarian candidate, Andrew Horning, is also in the race.

Indiana is among 11 states in which voters were electing governors Tuesday as Republicans hope to boost their already strong advantage in state executive offices across the country.

Republicans occupy 30 of the 50 governors' mansions, and hope to boost their advantage because Democrats hold seven of the 11 governorships on the ballots this year, including three of five open seats.

Frank O'Bannon
Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon (left), shown here with Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan, held onto his seat in Indiana  

Not surprisingly, all of the open seats are considered competitive races: Democrats are trying to defend governors' offices in Delaware, Missouri and North Carolina, with Republicans in Montana and North Dakota hoping to keep those states in their column.

Few races are expected to draw much attention beyond state borders. One of the exceptions is Vermont, where court and legislative decisions establishing "civil unions" for gay couples has sparked a backlash.

Former GOP state legislator Ruth Dwyer and Progressive Party candidate Anthony Pollina are challenging incumbent Democrat Howard Dean. If none of them wins a majority, the race's outcome would be in the hands of Vermont's legislature.

In Missouri, Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Talent and Democrat Bob Holden, Missouri's state treasurer, have waged a close contest. They are competing to succeed the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, a popular two-term Democrat who was running for the U.S. Senate when he died October 16 in a plane crash near St. Louis.

Talent is one of three congressmen who chose to run for governor instead of seeking re-election.

Wise most vulnerable GOP incumbent

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is facing a challenge from GOP candidate Ruth Dwyer and Progressive Party candidate Anthony Pollina.  

In West Virginia, Democratic Rep. Bob Wise is trying to knock out Gov. Cecil Underwood, a Republican in normally Democratic West Virginia. Many analysts consider Underwood the most vulnerable GOP incumbent and he leads Wise by only a narrow margin in recent polls.

A third candidate, Denise Giardina, is running on the environmentalist Mountain Party ticket. Giardina, who turned in about 18,000 signatures to win a spot on the ballot, is critical of a mining practice known as "mountaintop removal" -- shearing off whole peaks to extract the coal inside them. But in West Virginia, where the coal industry is still a major force, both majority-party candidates support the practice.

Incumbents face tough campaigns

Other incumbents facing tough campaigns include New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

Shaheen is running against Gordon Humphrey, a former two-term Republican U.S. senator. Humphrey is running hard against Shaheen in notoriously tax-averse New Hampshire, pressing her to release a plan to solve a state education funding crisis triggered by court rulings.

Shaheen, a two-term incumbent, led in fall polls. But she has refused to take the popular "no new taxes" pledge in this year's election, and she also faces a challenge from Republican-turned-independent Mary Brown, a former state legislator.

New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a two-term incumbent, faces challenges from former Republican Sen. Gordon Humphrey and Independent Mary Brown, a former state legislator.  

In Delaware, Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Republican businessman John Burris, a former state House majority leader, are vying to succeed Democratic Tom Carper. Carper is trying to unseat Delaware's longtime GOP Sen. William Roth. An independent, Floyd McDowell, is also in the race.

Three women running for top office

Minner is one of three women vying to become their state's first female chief executive. The other two are in states in the far north, where two popular Republicans -- Montana Gov. Marc Racicot and North Dakota Gov. Ed Schaefer -- are stepping down.

Stuart Rothenberg:
Top governor's races of 2000

Stuart Rothenberg:
Governors overview

In North Dakota, Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, is back on the campaign trail after announcing in September that she had breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and has postponed chemotherapy and radiation treatment until after the election. The impact of her illness was uncertain, and analysts expect the contest to come down to the wire.

In Montana, neither Republican Lieutenant Gov. Judy Martz -- a former Olympic speed skater and rodeo queen -- nor Democratic State Auditor Mark O'Keefe appears to have a clear advantage in the race to follow Racicot into the governor's mansion. O'Keefe has spent more than $300,000 of his own money on the campaign: He is the brother-in-law of Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Dayton, another self-financed Democrat.

Other state races

• Washington Gov. Gary Locke, a Democrat, is likely to turn back a challenge from Republican radio talk show host John Carlson. Carlson -- who spearheaded popular initiatives banning affirmative action, auto license taxes and instituting a three-strikes sentencing law -- is running far behind Locke in fund-raising in the last days of the campaign.

• And in Utah, incumbent Republican Mike Leavitt was expected to win a third term against former Democratic Congressman Bill Orton. Leavitt led in some surveys by as many as 30 points in conservative Utah, though he was booed at his own state party convention for being insufficiently ideological.




Monday, November 6, 2000


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