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What's At Stake: Overview | Governor | Senate | House | Ballot Measures | State Legislatures

Stuart Rothenberg on the 1998 Governor Races, State-by-State

Rothenberg One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.

ALABAMA -- Fob James (R) elected in 1979; re-elected in 1994 (50%).
Gov. Fob James (R), the darling of social issue conservatives and a former Democratic governor, won a bruising GOP runoff against challenger Winton Blount, a businessman who ran for governor previously. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Don Siegelman had an easy primary. A veteran statewide officeholder who has also served as secretary of state and Alabama attorney general, Siegelman lost a bid for his party's nomination for governor in 1990. Alabama is now reliably Republican in federal races, the state has two GOP senators, and five of the state's seven congressional districts are represented by Republicans. But James is controversial, and he won the governor's office in 1994 (a great GOP year) by just 10,000 votes.

Democrat Siegelman appears to have opened up a lead over James, hammering away at the governor on education. Siegelman supports a state lottery to raise money for education, but James, whose electoral base includes evangelical Christians who oppose gambling, is a strong opponent of the proposal. Republicans continue to raise questions about Siegelman's background, including his military record. In the campaign's final days polling shows Siegelman ahead, but Democrats are still worried about the state's Republican bent. Lean takeover.
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ALASKA -- Tony Knowles (D) elected in 1994 (41%).
Gov. Tony Knowles (D) served as the mayor of Anchorage before getting elected governor. He won the governorship four years ago by getting only 41 percent of the vote in a four-way race that included a Green Party candidate, a conservative Independent and a Republican. He beat the GOP nominee by 536 votes. The state generally votes Republican in federal races, but Democrats are more competitive in state and local contests, and the Republicans sometimes squabble among themselves over social issues, which is exactly how Knowles won four years ago. In this year's open primary. Knowles finished first with 36 percent, but the next three finishers were all Republicans. Their 57 percent total isn't good news for the Democrats. In the fall, Knowles will face the top GOP finisher, John Lindauer, who won the Alaskan Independence Party nomination for governor in 1990 but withdrew shortly thereafter. Lindauer has put $800,000 from his own pocket into the primary.
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ARIZONA -- Jane Hull (R) succeeded Fife Symington in 1997.
Gov. Jane Hull (R) was elected secretary of state but succeeded Fife Symington (R) as governor when Symington was convicted of fraud (for misrepresenting his financial position in order to get backing for a major real estate venture) and forced out of office in 1997. A number of oft-mentioned Republican hopefuls decided against challenging her for the nomination, and she cruised to an easy primary victory over only token primary opposition. On the Democratic side, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson was without primary opposition after businessman Eddie Basha dropped out of the contest for family reasons.

Johnson, who started by emphasizing school construction but switched to HMO reform after the Legislature passed the governor's school construction proposal, hopes to paint Hull, a former school teacher and one of only two incumbent female governors running this year (the other being New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen), as a right-wing extremist. But the state's voters may well want the continuity of Hull, a moderate, after a number of years of political turmoil in the governor's office.
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ARKANSAS -- Mike Huckabee (R) succeeded Jim Guy Tucker in July 1996.
Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) burst onto the state's political scene in 1992 when he ran a competitive, though unsuccessful, Senate race against Sen. Dale Bumpers (D). The next year, Huckabee won a special election to become lieutenant governor, and he succeeded to the state's top job when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) resigned after being convicted of arranging fraudulent loans for a former municipal judge. Observers agree that Tucker's loans would not have become an issue had not Bill Clinton become embroiled in the Whitewater investigation.

The Democrats had trouble finding a candidate to run this year against Huckabee, but they finally got one when Jonesboro attorney Bill Bristow, who sought the '96 Democratic Senate nomination but finished third out of five in the primary, entered the race. A Harvard grad and trial attorney, Bristow has personal money and is a loyal party soldier. But while the challenger has some positive attributes, Huckabee, a Baptist minister with a background in media, is a skilled politician who knows when to sound bipartisan.
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CALIFORNIA -- OPEN -- Pete Wilson (R) not seeking re-election/term limited. Elected in 1990 (49%) and 1994 (55%).
Insiders in both parties acknowledge the tightness of this race and expect an excellent fight all the way to November. Attorney General Dan Lungren (R) is smart and experienced, but his second-place showing in the open primary against three major Democrats was not a good sign for the GOP. While Democrats try to paint the attorney general as too conservative and inflexible (on abortion, for example), Lungren's greater problems may well include a Democratic trend in the state and a strong Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Gray Davis. Republican insiders hope the attorney general's personality and anti-crime record will enable him to shape the dynamics of this contest.

Democrats have argued that the June defeat of Proposition 226 (which would have made it more difficult for organized labor to raise political funds), Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election race, and the recent political activity of Hispanics guarantees a strong turnout among Democratic core groups. But President Bill Clinton's problems could short-circuit Democratic turnout and motivate Republicans to vote.

Democrats also argue that while Davis lacks charisma, his years in and around state office are a plus this year. Davis demonstrated considerable political appeal by beating two much better funded opponents -- mega-wealthy businessman Al Checchi and wealthy Rep. Jane Harman -- in the Democratic primary. But Democrats had hoped that Sen. Dianne Feinstein would seek their party's nomination for governor, and Davis won the Democratic primary when Checchi and Harman attacked each other, allowing Davis to transform himself from an underfunded also-ran to late-spending front-runner. While Republicans remind voters that Davis was Jerry Brown's chief of staff and try to paint him as an extreme liberal, that tactic may not work. This race is a good chance for the Democrats to break the GOP's 16-year grip on the governorship.

In the final month of the campaign, Davis had more money to spend. The lieutenant governor also added an endorsement by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, while Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has endorsed Lungren. All except the most loyal Republican insiders are now acknowledging that Davis will win the seat, and GOP finger-pointing as to who is responsible for Lungren's loss has already begun. The big question is whether a small Democratic wave in the state is developing, and whether Democratic candidates for other statewide office will be swept in along with Davis.
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COLORADO -- OPEN -- Roy Romer (D) not seeking re-election/term limited. Elected 1986 (58%), 1990 (64%) and 1994 (55%).
Gov. Roy Romer, who also serves as Democratic National Committee chairman, can't seek re-election, so both parties had competitive primaries. State Treasurer Bill Owens (R) won the GOP state convention endorsement and went on to defeat state Senate President Tom Norton in the primary. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler had to overcome a serious primary challenge from state Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley, who won the top line on the primary ballot by beating her at the Democratic convention and who garnered the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO. Even Democratic insiders are worried that the state is drifting Republican -- Colorado went for Bill Clinton in 1992 but was carried by Bob Dole four years later -- and that adds to the impression that Colorado remains a good GOP opportunity for a pick up.

Both Owens and Schoettler are talking about taxes, with the Republican calling for lower taxes and the repeal of the state's personal property tax, and the Democrat promising a full review of the state's tax system. Schoettler has offered a health care plan, while Owens has charged that his opponent supported a nuclear waste facility in the state. And the two hopefuls are still arguing over abortion and education. Owens's lead has been consistent, but Democrats insist the race has closed. Still probably a tossup.
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CONNECTICUT -- John Rowland (R) elected in 1994 (36%).
Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D), daughter of John Bailey, the state's powerful Democratic leader and the Democratic National Committee's chairman during the early 1960s, flirted with the gubernatorial race for months before finally deciding to take on Gov. John Rowland (R). Kennelly is an eight-term Hartford-area congresswoman who has become a Washington, D.C., insider. Rowland is also a former congressman -- his district was southwest of Hartford and included the blue-collar city of Waterbury -- who appears to have overcome potentially messy marital problems. The state is politically competitive, and Rowland won election four years ago with just 36 percent in a four-way race, so he can't take his re-election for granted. The governor is riding an economic boom in the state, has been aggressive particularly in pushing education initiatives, and is popular in polling. The Democrats' only bit of good news came when two of the people selected by Rowland to round out the GOP statewide ticket encountered personal problems.

While first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has campaigned for Kennelly, not much else has gone right for the Democrat. Rowland continues to ride a strong economy and high personal popularity toward a second term, as Democrats mutter that Kennelly has not yet found a way to excite Democrats and get her campaign off the ground.
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FLORIDA -- OPEN -- Lawton Chiles (D) not seeking re-election/term limited. Elected 1990 (57%) and 1994 (51%).
Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay locked up the Democratic nomination by coaxing primary opponent state Sen. Rick Dantzler to join him as his running mate. The MacKay-Dantzler ticket was immediately hailed by Democrats, but it didn't redraw the fundamental outlines of the race. Unsuccessful 1994 nominee Jeb Bush is the GOP nominee, and he has reached out to more Democratic constituencies (including African-American political leaders disgruntled with the Democratic party) in his bid for November. His emphasis on education, combined with his experience from 1994 and his campaign war chest, make him the favorite for the fall. The state's voters know MacKay very well after his many years in politics; he served in both houses of the state Legislature, in Congress for three terms and narrowly lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1988 against Connie Mack (R), who won the election by fewer than 35,000 votes out of over 4 million cast.

Recent polling shows Bush increasing his margin against MacKay. The Democrat has stepped up his attacks on Bush, questioning the Republican's past business dealings, and complaining that Bush's campaign is being funded by Texas oil men and by gambling interests. In their debates, Bush generally ignores MacKay's attacks, offers his own agenda and calls for new political leadership. Bush has been endorsed by a number of black state legislators, including state Rep. Willie Logan, who was dumped from the Democratic legislative leadership and has publicly complained that a white legislator would not have been treated the same way by his party.
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GEORGIA -- OPEN -- Zell Miller (D) not seeking re-election/term limited.
Businessman Guy Millner's surprisingly narrow 50-40 percent victory in the GOP primary over former attorney general Mike Bowers, who was weakened by personal scandal, has Republicans worrying about the fall. After spending heavily in past unsuccessful Senate and gubernatorial races, Millner almost didn't avoid a runoff. On the Democratic side, state Rep. Roy Barnes, who lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Zell Miller in 1990, finished first by a comfortable margin and almost drew the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. But the second place finisher, Secretary of State Lewis Massey, conceded the runoff to the wealthy Barnes. Barnes' personal resources and Millner's limited appeal make this a very competitive race. The only Republican ever to finish first in a gubernatorial election since Reconstruction was Howard "Bo" Callaway in 1966. But Callaway didn't get a majority of the votes cast, throwing the election into the state Legislature, which elected the second-place finisher, Lester Maddox (D).

Millner and Barnes generally agree on the need for lower taxes and tougher penalties for criminals, so the Democrat has spent much of his time criticizing health maintenance organizations. Outgoing governor Miller has endorsed Barnes in a TV commercial. But the Republican has a significant advantage in TV advertising. Polling has shown Millner leading but still far under 50 percent of the vote. Barnes continues to try to link himself with the popular Miller, and this race is definitely too close to call.
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HAWAII -- Ben Cayetano (D) elected in 1994 (37%).
Maui Mayor Linda Crockett Lingle, who represents three of the smaller islands, is the GOP nominee and will give her party an excellent candidate against the Democratic nominee, incumbent governor Ben Cayetano. But the Republican party is almost non-existent in the state, and the last Republican to be elected governor -- indeed the only Republican elected to that post -- was William Quinn, who was the state's first governor when the Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959. (Three years later, Quinn lost when he sought re-election.) The state hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since Hiram Fong in 1970. Four years ago, former congresswoman Pat Saiki (R) came in third against Cayetano, with political gadfly Frank Fasi coming in second. Fasi, the former mayor of Honolulu, is running again, as a Republican. Cayetano's poll numbers have been terrible for months, but he can raise lots of money and the Democratic-union political machine remains very powerful.

Democratic insiders say that Cayetano's poll numbers have rebounded, giving him a 50-50 chance of holding on to the governorship. The state teacher's union has endorsed the governor, and he is trying to make Lingle more of an issue. The candidates are spending most of their time talking about the state's economy and their economic plans. Lingle's lead in the polls has remained constant, but she is out of money and the Democratic turnout machine continues to give Cayetano a chance for a huge comeback victory. It's not over yet.
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IDAHO -- Phil Batt (R), not seeking re-election.
Republican Gov. Phil Batt's retirement doesn't help Democratic chances of picking up the governorship. That's because Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (R), the former mayor of Boise and an affable politician, is the GOP nominee for governor. The Democratic nominee, Bob Huntley, a rancher and former state supreme court justice, is running uphill in one of the most Republican states in the country. While Idaho voters have elected plenty of Democrats to the governorship -- in fact, the Republicans failed to win six straight gubernatorial elections, from 1970 through 1990 -- Kempthorne is a well-known, well-liked political figure.
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ILLINOIS -- Jim Edgar (R), not seeking re-election.
The retirement of Gov. Jim Edgar (R) gives the Democrats an opportunity to win a gubernatorial election for the first time since 1972. Secretary of State George Ryan (R) faces Rep. Glenn Poshard (D) in an unusual race. Ryan, an uncontroversial moderate, has the backing of the outgoing governor and the state's GOP political establishment. The Democratic nominee, Poshard, is a relatively conservative five-term member of Congress from the southern part of the state. A former state senator, Poshard is both pro-life and against gun control, and he beat three major primary opponents, all of whom were considerably more liberal and unquestionably more identified with voter-rich Chicago. Back in 1992, redistricting threw Poshard into the same district with another Democratic congressman, and although he was badly outspent and ran an old-style grass roots campaign, Poshard won that race. He has not taken PAC money, and generally adopts a populist approach.

The AFL-CIO promises to be very active in supporting Poshard's candidacy, but Ryan is a well-established political figure. This race could well turn on geography. Ryan hopes to exceed the normal GOP vote in Chicago, while rolling up normally good Republican margins elsewhere in the state. Poshard, on the other hand, hopes to do better than most Democrats ordinarily do in southern and central Illinois.

Poshard continues to have trouble rallying Chicago Democrats (including many liberals) to his cause, which is one reason why Ryan has opened up a considerable lead in the polls. Poshard has criticized his opponent for his extensive use of state "perks" and complained that the Republican is part of "a scandal-ridden reign of government." He has also blamed Ryan for the deaths of children killed by an unqualified driver who obtained a commercial driver's license. (Ryan's department handles drivers' licenses.) Democrats are jumping on a so-called truck-license selling scandal. But Ryan continues to hug the political middle, which so far has proven to be an effective strategy. One recent poll showed Poshard to be close, but while the Democrat has closed some ground, Ryan still looks like a winner.
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IOWA -- OPEN -- Terry Branstad (R) not seeking re-election.
Republican Terry Branstad's retirement as governor means that his name won't be on the ballot for governor for the first time since 1978. Former congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot, who made a credible, though unsuccessful, challenge to Sen. Tom Harkin (D) in 1996, easily beat a couple of primary opponents to win the Republican nomination for governor. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Tom Vilsack used support from organized labor to beat former state supreme court justice Mark McCormick for his party's nomination.

The AFL-CIO is supporting Vilsack enthusiastically, and Harkin has helped to bankroll TV ads attacking Lightfoot. But the GOP has been on a roll in the state. They hold both houses of the state Legislature and four of the state's five congressional districts, and the last Democrat to win a gubernatorial election in Iowa was Harold Hughes in 1966. Lightfoot's extensive campaign experience and unified party support make him the favorite to hold the governorship.

Lightfoot has proposed a three-point education plan: more money for early childhood education, teacher testing and more money for school discipline. He also proposes a cut in the growth of overall state spending and a decrease in the state income tax. In a potential shocker, polling shows Vilsak making a major run at Lightfoot. Democrats say that the Republican has been "off-message" in the final weeks, and the Democratic base is rallying around Vilsak, with organized labor's help. Lightfoot still leads, but Democrats are hoping for the upset.
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KANSAS -- Bill Graves (R) elected in 1994 (64%).
Incumbent Gov. Bill Graves, a moderate Republican, easily beat former Republican state chairman David Miller, a pro-life conservative, by 73-27 percent in the August GOP primary. The state Republican Party remains badly divided between moderates and conservatives, but Graves, who called the state party's conservative platform "meaningless," is a solid favorite to win re-election over state Rep. Tom Sawyer (D).
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MAINE -- Angus King, Jr. (I) elected in 1994 (35%).
Independent Gov. Angus King, who made a name for himself by hosting a long-running TV show, is seeking re-election and appears to be popular. Still, the two major parties have fielded candidates against him. The GOP nominee is former congressman Jim Longley, whose father served as an Independent governor in the mid-1970s. The Democrats selected Tom Connolly, a Portland attorney. But Longley, a conservative, lost his re-election race two years ago, and King has great appeal among Democratic voters.
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MARYLAND -- Parris Glendening (D) elected in 1994 (50%).
Harford County executive Eileen Rehrmann, who won the support of Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke (D) and Prince George's County executive Wayne Curry (D), two of the most prominent black elected officeholders in the state, stunned observers by dropping out of the Democratic primary against Gov. Parris Glendening in August. She said she lacked the money for a major advertising campaign against the governor. Glendening has taken plenty of criticism in the newspapers and is regarded as weak, but polls consistently showed that he would win renomination.

On the GOP side, unsuccessful '94 nominee Ellen Sauerbrey defeated Howard County executive Charles Ecker in the primary. Ecker was positioned as the moderate alternative. Sauerbrey, who is a conservative, lost to Glendening four years ago by 5,933 votes out of a total 1.4 million cast, so a repeat should see another close race.

Democratic defections continue to hurt Glendening in his re-match against Sauerbrey. Rehrmann, who never endorsed the governor, has been helping the Republican, and both polling and comments from Democratic activists suggest that Glendening will lose some of his base. African-American political leaders supported Rehrmann's primary bid, but they are unlikely to support a Republican against the governor. Sauerbrey has softened her message, but the governor is hammering her. He attacks her for opposing legal abortion and failing to protect the environment, and generally paints her as a conservative extremist. The governor initially distanced himself from Bill Clinton, but subsequently said he would appear with the president if Clinton returned to the state.

Glendening's barrage of negative ads against Sauerbrey -- in which he attacks her in abortion, guns and a variety of her votes years ago in the state legislature -- apparently have helped him move past the challenger. But the race remains close, and turnout remains a key.
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MASSACHUSETTS -- Paul Cellucci (R) succeeded William Weld as governor in 1997.
Gov. Paul Cellucci became governor when William Weld (R) gave up that office in his failed bid to win confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1997. The exit of Weld, as well as the decision by onetime gubernatorial candidate Joe Kennedy (D) to drop out of the race, have transformed the contest. Cellucci faced a primary challenge from state Treasurer Joe Malone (R), who was popular with the party's conservative rank and file.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Scott Harshbarger got in the race early and became the instant front-runner when Kennedy dropped out. (Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn dropped out of the race to run for Congress.) But he had two serious opponents: former state Sen. Patricia McGovern and former Rep. Brian Donnelly.

General election polls show that this race is very competitive and that the Republicans should not be overconfident. Though Cellucci maintains a clear, though not overwhelming lead over Harshbarger in recent polling, he continues to be dogged by questions about his personal finances (and considerable debt). But the challenger has not yet solidified his Democratic Party base. Cellucci's moderation and Harshbarger's lack of strong party ties have too many local Democratic activists either sitting on their hands or quietly preferring the governor. A continued strong economy, combined with Cellucci's support for a tax cut, have helped the Republican in his search for a full term.

The campaign has become more negative and personal in the final weeks. Cellucci has attacked his opponent for being a "tax-and-spend" liberal, while Harshbarger complains that the governor has changed his positions for political expediency. Polling generally has Cellucci ahead, though under 50 percent of the vote. A possible upset, but Cellucci remains the favorite.

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MICHIGAN -- John Engler (R) elected in 1990, re-elected in 1994 (61%).
Gov. John Engler (R) is seeking another term and faces attorney Geoffrey Fieger (D), who is best known as the attorney for Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who assists people who want to commit suicide. Fieger beat two more established Democrats, former East Lansing mayor/attorney Larry Owen (who drew 25 percent in running a strong third in the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary) and ex-state senator Doug Ross. Owen had lined up support from organized labor and from Detroit mayor Dennis Archer. Fieger is a self-described populist, who has used personal attacks against his opponents. During the primary, for example, he suggested that Engler wasn't very smart. One of the keys to this race is whether Democratic voters will embrace Fieger, who ran well among black voters in the city of Detroit but may have trouble in other parts of the state.

Republicans continue to pound away at Feiger as an intolerant extremist, while he tries to galvanize Democrats around his candidacy with a populist message. The challenger portrays Engler as a politically divisive figure -- anti-Detroit, insufficiently concerned with the less well off, and extreme on issues like abortion. Polling continues to show the governor with a huge lead, with large numbers of Democrats defecting from Feiger. Some Democrats are concerned that fallout from an expected Engler landslide will damage other Democratic candidates in the state.
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MINNESOTA -- OPEN -- Arne Carlson (R) not seeking re-election.
St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who switched parties and was re-elected last year, won the GOP state convention and won the GOP primary. His base in normally Democratic St. Paul, combined with his electoral experience and solid support within his adopted party, make him a very serious contender in the fall.

On the Democratic side, three hopefuls with famous Minnesota political names ran for their party's nomination, which is why pundits referred to the contest as the "My Three Sons" race. The winner, Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III was the front-runner throughout the race. He had earned some good press from his role in taking on the tobacco companies. But unsuccessful '94 nominee Mike Freeman, son of the former governor, won the state convention, giving him manpower and money to take on Humphrey in the primary. State Sen. Ted Mondale was the lone hopeful from the party's more moderate wing, and his name and national fund-raising contacts are a significant asset. Wealthy former state auditor Mark Dayton, who lost a Senate bid in 1982, remained in the race and performed well in the polls, but John Marty, the liberal '94 gubernatorial nominee who drew an embarrassingly low 33 percent of the vote in the general election, exited the contest shortly after he entered it.

Coleman and Humphrey have argued about their respective positions on education, but the major party hopefuls, joined by Reform Party nominee Jesse "The Body" Ventura, had an uneventful first debate. The state attorney general has backed out of three scheduled debates, running a front-runner strategy to avoid mistakes. Expect another weird finish, as Ventura has become a major factor in the race. The former pro wrestler is now drawing well over a quarter of the vote -- sometimes as much as 30 percent in the polls. He has become a huge headache for Humphrey. Coleman, on the other hand, is holding steady at about one-third of the vote. This has become one of the most confusing races of the cycle, with Ventura's anti-politics message resonating. Tossup, though the race still looks like it's between Humphrey and Coleman.
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NEBRASKA -- OPEN -- Ben Nelson (D) not seeking re-election/term limited.
Bill Hoppner, who lost the '90 Democratic primary and served as a former chief of staff to both Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) and then-Sen. Jim Exon (D), won the Democratic nomination. But he starts off as an underdog against Republican Mike Johanns, the mayor of Lincoln. Johanns knocked off two primary opponents, including Rep. Jon Christensen, and while he is conservative, he presents a moderate image and style. The state's Republican bent may be all that Johanns needs to win the race.
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NEVADA -- OPEN -- Bob Miller (D) not seeking re-election/term limited.
Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones (D) and former superintendent of schools/University of Nevada, Las Vegas president Kenny Guinn (R) easily won their primaries and will face off in November. Jones, who disposed easily of state Sen. Joe Neal in the primary, jumped into the race late, giving Democrats an established political figure in their effort to hold the seat of Gov. Bob Miller (D), who is prohibited from seeking another term. While she ruffled party feathers four years ago by challenging Miller in a primary, Democrats are just happy to have a top tier candidate this year. On the GOP side, Guinn raised big money early and consolidated party support, which made him the favorite in the primary against Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, a wealthy but quirky candidate, and Aaron Russo (R) a Hollywood producer ("The Rose," "Trading Places"). Jones, who comes out of the private sector, is articulate and outgoing, and she should test Guinn. But the Republican's inroads in Clark County (Las Vegas) and expected strength elsewhere in the state make this a seat the GOP would like to takeover.

Guinn remains the favorite but has been damaged by Democratic attacks that he is just an empty suit. Jones has proven to be smart and aggressive, and even GOP insiders wonder how Guinn spent his campaign war chest. The race leans Republican but certainly is in play. Democrats are hoping for an upset.
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NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Jeanne Shaheen (D) elected in 1996 (57%).
All of the big-name Republicans who were mentioned as potential contenders -- including former congressman/'96 primary loser Bill Zeliff, '96 general election loser Ovide LaMontagne, and former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey -- decided against challenging the popular governor, Jeanne Shaheen (D), who served in the state Senate for six years. Businessman Jay Lucas, the GOP state party treasurer, narrowly defeated state Sen. Jim Rubens and three other GOP hopefuls for the Republican nomination. Lucas is a clear underdog in the general election. New Hampshire is one of only two states in the nation (the other being Vermont) that still has a two-year term for governor.
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NEW MEXICO -- Gary Johnson (R) elected in 1994 (50%).
Former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez won the Democratic primary and should be a major test for Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, a businessman who hasn't always shown great political skill. The Republican won four years ago, in part, because the Green Party ran a strong candidate who drew 10 percent of the vote. But the Greens won't have a nominee this year, enhancing the Democrats' chances.

Polling suggests that this race is very close. Johnson and Chavez disagree over concealed weapons, with the governor favoring the right of citizens to carry concealed, loaded weapons if they have passed a weapons safety course, and Chavez opposing such a right. Both candidates have talked about job creation, with the governor calling for lower taxes and Chavez emphasizing education. The latest polling suggests that Johnson may hold on, though this race is not yet over.
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NEW YORK -- George Pataki (R) elected in 1994 (49%).
Gov. George Pataki (R) ousted Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) four years ago, and Democrats hoped to be able to knock him off in this generally Democratic state. But Pataki has taken advantage of the improved political and economic climate, he has a huge war chest, and the Democrats don't have many strong, visible statewide figures who could automatically threaten Pataki. New York City councilman Peter Vallone beat Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross, who switched parties following a very public feud with Pataki, former Cuomo Administration official James Larocca, and Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes to win the primary. Democratic insiders doubt that their candidate can overtake the governor.

Polling shows that Pataki continues to be headed for a landslide, in part because he is drawing so much support from Democrats and Independents. The governor, who has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, has run ads about his support for the environment and his property tax reduction program. Vallone drew national attention with a TV spot defending President Bill Clinton and praising him as an asset for New York. He lacks the governor's financial resources. Independence Party nominee Thomas Golisano, a multi-millionaire who drew 4 percent in a 1994 third party gubernatorial bid, says he'll spend $20 million on his candidacy and is running TV ads. Pataki's lieutenant governor, Ross, who switched to the Democratic Party but lost the Democratic primary for governor this year, is the nominee of the Liberal Party. Actor Al Lewis, who played "Grandpa" on the TV series "The Munsters," is the Green Party nominee and ads comic relief.
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OHIO -- OPEN -- George Voinovich (R) not seeking re-election/term limited.
With Gov. George Voinovich (R) not allowed to seek a third term and running for the Senate, Democrats figure they have a good shot at the governorship. That's because no party has held the office for more than eight years in a row since World War II. State Treasurer Ken Blackwell (R) considered running but ultimately decided against challenging Secretary of State Bob Taft for the GOP nomination, and wealthy businessman Bruce Douglas ran some ads but then dropped out of the Democratic primary against Lee Fisher. That sets up an interesting matchup pitting Taft, of the famous Ohio GOP family, and Fisher, the former state attorney general who narrowly lost a '94 re-election bid. Taft is teased about his lack of charisma, but the state has often preferred colorless politicians. Insiders from both parties believe that Taft and Fisher will be locked in a close race through the fall, and outgoing Voinovich's ethics and sales tax/school funding problems could end up hurting Taft in November. A high priority Democratic target.

Fisher has proposed a $1.1 billion property tax cut, so Taft has attacked Fisher for providing the deciding vote that passed the largest tax increase in the history of the state. The Democrat, in turn, has criticized his opponent for increasing spending and property taxes during his years as a Hamilton County commissioner. Late polling generally shows Taft maintaining a consistent 4- to 8-point lead, though private Democratic numbers suggest that Fisher has pulled even. Fisher has looked great in the last joint appearances, while Taft has appeared more tentative and defensive. Leans GOP, but not yet in the bag.
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OKLAHOMA -- Frank Keating (R) elected in 1994 (47%).
Gov. Frank Keating, a popular former U.S. attorney, received high marks and great visibility for his handling of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Democrats have shown weakness in trying to compete for high profile offices in the state, and 1998 is no exception. State Rep. Laura Boyd defeated state Rep. James Hager 60-40 percent in the Democratic primary, but she comes from one of the more liberal legislative districts in the state and will not be able to raise the money that Keating will. The governor, a former FBI agent and state legislator, would love to run for president.
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OREGON -- John Kitzhaber (D) elected in 1994 (51%).
Anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore (R) faces incumbent Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), a veteran of both houses of the Oregon legislature and a former physician. While in the legislature, Kitzhaber was a driving force for health care reform, and he helped enact a state law that increased coverage through health care rationing. The last time a Republican won the state's top office was 1982, and Kitzhaber starts out as the clear favorite for November.
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PENNSYLVANIA -- Tom Ridge (R) elected in 1994 (45%).
State Rep. Ivan Itkin is the Democratic nominee against Republican Gov. Tom Ridge, a Vietnam veteran and former congressman from Erie. Ridge, a moderate who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, also faces a third party challenge from conservative Peg Luksik, who drew 13 percent four years ago. The weakness of Ridge's opponents testify to his popularity, fund-raising appeal and political invincibility.
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RHODE ISLAND -- Lincoln Almond (R) elected in 1994 (47%).
Former state Sen. Myrth York, a liberal Democrat who narrowly lost to Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) in 1994 (47-44 percent), will be his opponent again. Almond is a former U.S. attorney, and he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1968 and for governor ten years later before winning the governorship four years ago. A state spending cap adds to the uncertainty about the race.

York and Almond continue to jab at each other. The Democrat has criticized the governor on health care, the environment and economic development. She also accuses him of sneaking through salary increases for state employees. Almond prefers to talk about the state of the Rhode Island economy. The major party candidates disagree over whether a new basketball arena should be built at the University of Rhode Island (he's for it, while she isn't). Observers complain that this re-match isn't nearly as interesting as was the first contest four years ago. Late polling suggests that York and Almond are still in a close race. A tossup.
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SOUTH CAROLINA -- David Beasley (R) elected in 1994 (50%).
Republican Gov. David Beasley, a former Democratic state legislator who changed parties after a "born-again" experience, is seeking re-election. Democrats' hopes clearly suffered when Lexington County sheriff James Metts, who was upset at not finding a high-profile position in Beasley's administration, dropped his Independent bid. The Democratic nominee, state House minority leader Jim Hodges, has done well raising funds and emphasizing education. He is a credible candidate, but the state's strong GOP bent makes South Carolina a very tough test for any Democrat.

Gambling and Beasley's trustworthiness have emerged as key issues, boosting the chances of challenger Hodges. The Democrats have run TV spots with disgruntled Republicans who raise questions about the governor's honesty. And Hodges continues to pound away at the need for a lottery to fund education. Beasley, who has had critics in the GOP since he switched parties, has had to defend himself against rumors that he had a sexual relationship with a former top staffer, and he is trying to present himself as a strong advocate for education. The governor also hopes to portray Hodges as a tax-and-spend Democrat who is out of touch with the state's conservatism and Republicanism. Polls show a surprisingly tight race, and both Republican and Democratic insiders believe any outcome is possible.
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SOUTH DAKOTA -- Bill Janklow (R) elected in 1978, re-elected in 1982, 1994 (55%).
Gov. Bill Janklow (R), who served two terms as governor in the late 1970s/early 1980s and ran unsuccessfully in the primary against a sitting GOP senator in 1986, is running again. State Sen. Bernie Hunhuff is the Democratic nominee and is talking about education, the economy and corporate welfare, as well as raising questions about the governor's personal ethics. Janklow is a blunt talker who has a knack for making waves, but he's been a popular vote-getter over the years and will be hard to beat.
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TENNESSEE -- Don Sundquist (R) elected in 1994 (54%).
The Democrats tried to find a major challenger to Gov. Don Sundquist, a former five-term Republican congressman, but ended up with Racing Commission chairman Mike Whitaker and 1970 gubernatorial nominee John J. Hooker as their only hopefuls. Hooker won the Democratic primary on the basis of his name, but he isn't regarded as a serious candidate even within his own party.
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TEXAS -- George Bush (R) elected in 1994 (53%).
Gov. George W. Bush, who knocked off popular governor Ann Richards (D) four years ago, looks in great shape for a second term, even though his tax overhaul plan went down in flames. Land Commissioner Gary Mauro is the Democratic nominee, and he says he's for lowering auto insurance rates and eliminating the car tax. But nobody seems to be taking him seriously -- Mauro simply is not likely to raise enough money to get his message out -- and the only questions are the size of Bush's win and when he will start his presidential bid. The governor's poll numbers have been very high for months.
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VERMONT -- Howard Dean (D) succeeded to the governorship in 1991, elected in 1992, re-elected in 1994, 1996 (69%).
Democratic Gov. Howard Dean was serving as lieutenant governor when he was elevated to the state's top post following the sudden death of then-Gov. Richard Snelling (R). Dean hasn't had a tough race, and a number of the better known GOP elected officials decided against challenging him this year. State Rep. Ruth Dwyer beat businessman Bernie Rome in an uneventful Republican primary. But Dean appears to be very popular, and a GOP takeover isn't likely.
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WISCONSIN -- Tommy Thompson (R) elected in 1986, re-elected in 1990, 1994 (67%).
Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) is running for a fourth term, something that hasn't been accomplished since World War II. The former GOP state legislator faces former NFL Players Association director Ed Garvey, who lost a Senate bid in 1986. Garvey beat Gary George, a African-American state senator, for the Democratic nod. Garvey has limited himself to contributions of $100 or less. If Democrats thought the nomination was worth a lot, they'd have a better field. Thompson, who has pushed through tax cuts, welfare reform and school choice, looks almost unbeatable in the fall.
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WYOMING -- Jim Geringer (R) elected in 1994 (59%).
State Sen. John Vinich, who has served two dozen years in the Wyoming Legislature, defeated two opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and hopes to upset the sitting Republican governor, Jim Geringer. Vinich ran respectably, though unsuccessfully, for Congress in a 1989 special election. Although the state has a reputation as a Republican bastion, Geringer broke a streak of five straight Democratic victories in gubernatorial elections when he won in 1994. A farmer, rancher and state legislator, Geringer was elected with a convincing 59 percent of the vote.
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