Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republican Governors Optimistic about Election Chances

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republican Governors Optimistic about Election Chances

Article excerpt

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) -- Republicans have a good chance to pick up more governorships over the next two years by campaigning as pragmatic problem solvers, a group of GOP incumbents said Monday.

Ten governors, including Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, and two hopefuls discussed the 2001-02 elections and issues such as health care and education reform during a policy forum on this Lake Huron resort island. It was one in a series of regional get-togethers being held this year by the Republican Governors Association.

In interviews, they said they expected the same issues that proved successful for many Republican statehouse candidates in the 1990s -- tax cuts, welfare and education reform, economic development and government efficiency -- to continue resonating.

"You'll find most of the candidates picking and choosing from that menu of what historically have been issues that people relate to, they talk about at the kitchen table," said the group chairman, Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

Despite a lagging economy that could make it tougher to balance state budgets, tax cuts will remain a winning issue in the campaign cycle that gets under way this year with elections in New Jersey and Virginia, governors said.

"Not only are they going to sell, it's the best remedy when the economy is slowing," said Gov. John Rowland of Connecticut, vice chairman of the RGA. "What drives the economy is people going out to buy a new suit, a new car, a new house, going out to dinner. Tax cuts are going to re-ignite the economy if indeed it's going to be stagnant."

The group also issued a joint statement urging Congress to quickly finish work on President Bush's education package, so adjustments could be made as needed on the state level.

The plan "will give parents and states more choice and control over education," Ridge said. …

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