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Clinton alumni vying for return to arena

By Bill Schneider
CNN Washington Bureau

(CNN) -- Less than one year removed from President Bush's inauguration, several top Clinton administration officials are trying to return to the political spotlight.

Four Clinton Cabinet officers and three former White House officials have entered major races to be decided this year, vying for congressional seats and governorships from New Mexico to Massachusetts. The contenders include:

Robert Reich, governor of Massachusetts

Robert Reich, governor of Massachusetts

Reich served as secretary of labor from 1993 to 1997, returning to Massachusetts where was a Harvard professor before his Cabinet appointment. He resumed teaching, this time at Brandeis in suburban Boston, saying he decided to enter the gubernatorial race after September 11. A Scranton, Pennsylvania, native, Reich faces challenges from Democrats Steve Grossman, a former national Democratic Party chairman, and former state Sen. Warren Tolman, as well as Republican incumbent Gov. Jane Swift.

Janet Reno, governor of Florida

Janet Reno, governor of Florida

As attorney general, Reno played a big role in many of the biggest controversies of the Clinton administration, including the Branch Davidian crisis in Waco, Texas, and investigations involving the president and Vice President Al Gore. But it is the saga of Elian Gonzalez -- the boy returned to Cuba after an extensive legal battle and raid by U.S. authorities -- that most might hurt Reno's Florida bid, especially among Cuban-Americans. A Miami native, Reno is trying unseat Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's younger brother.

Andrew Cuomo, governor New York

Andrew Cuomo, governor New York

Cuomo faces two legacies -- that of Clinton, his boss as Housing and Urban Development secretary, and Mario Cuomo, his father and long-time New York governor. The younger Cuomo is no shoo-in for the state's Democratic nomination. He faces a stiff challenge from the state's highest elected African-American official, Comptroller Carl McCall. After that, he would have to best the popular incumbent Gov. George Pataki, who beat his father eight years ago.

Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico

Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico

Richardson has an accomplished resume, having served 14 years in Congress, one year as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and two years as secretary of energy. But reports of spying and stolen nuclear secrets at Los Alamos -- in his home state of New Mexico -- might have damaged his prestige.

Erskine Bowles, North Carolina senator

Erskine Bowles, North Carolina senator

A former White House chief of staff, Bowles' attempt to replace Carolina legend, retiring Sen. Jesse Helms, will not be easy. Bowles has never run for office, and he needs to stand out in a competitive primary, even to earn a spot on the ticket. It gets tougher from there in the heavily Republican state. A poll last month had Bowles trailing the leading GOP contender, Elizabeth Dole, by nearly 50 percentage points.

Rahm Emanuel, Illinois congressman

Rahm Emanuel, Illinois congressman

While he does not have the track record of Richardson or renown of Cuomo, Emanuel is as good a bet for victory of any ex-Clinton official. The president's former aide and spin meister, Emanuel has the backing of the local Democratic Party and close ties to another former boss, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Bill Curry, governor of Connecticut

Bill Curry, governor of Connecticut

Curry will try to avenge a narrow 1994 defeat to current Gov. John Rowland in his quest for the Connecticut governorship. The senior Clinton aide faces an uphill battle, trailing the incumbent Rowland in recent polls. But the political makeup of Connecticut, which voted strongly for Gore and boasts two powerful Democratic senators, means there is hope for any legitimate Democratic contender.



 
 
 
 


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