Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Is Likely to Keep Lead in Statehouses

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Is Likely to Keep Lead in Statehouses

Article excerpt

DEMOCRATS IN West Virginia hope President Bill Clinton's coattails are long enough to sweep a coal miner's daughter to the statehouse, while a Republican mayor running for Indiana governor will have to make the trip on his own.

Those two races for open governorships are the hottest entries on this year's slate of 11 statehouse contests.

In the GOP landslide two years ago, Republicans captured their first statehouse majority in a quarter-century, going to 31 governorships from 20. Democrats won't even the score this year. Republican incumbents in North Dakota and Utah are considered shoo-ins, and Montana's Republican governor faces state Sen. Judy Jacobson, who was the lieutenant governor candidate until Chet Blaylock, the Democratic nominee, died recently. Blaylock, who was trailing Gov. Marc Racicot 8-1 in polls, died, apparently of a heart attack, while driving to a debate. Blaylock, 71, entered the race after no other Democrat would challenge the popular Racicot, who is seeking a second term. Democrats are on much surer ground in North Carolina, Missouri and Vermont, where their incumbents are expected to win easily. Delaware Democrats also anticipate a big win for Gov. Thomas R. Carper, despite the bizarre, unsubstantiated claims from an out-of-state GOP group that he has beaten his wife and is headed for divorce. His Republican opponent, state Treasurer Janet Rzewnicki, failed to denounce the claims, and the Wilmington News Journal accused her in an editorial of going "far beyond the bounds of gutter politics." In the other two races, polls indicate that Democrats will hold onto Washington state and capture New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, state Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has held a double-digit lead in the polls over Republican Ovide Lamontagne, former Board of Education chairman. The winner succeeds Gov. Steve Merrill, a Republican who is retiring. In Washington, Democrat Gary Locke, bidding to become the nation's first Asian-American governor, has maintained a 20-point lead over Republican Ellen Craswell. Gov. Mike Lowry, a Democrat, is retiring. Locke, executive of King County, which includes Seattle, is an urban liberal who champions gay and abortion rights. …

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