||One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.|
The races for governor in 1999
By Stuart Rothenberg
October 6, 1999
Web posted at: 12:33 p.m. EDT (1633 GMT)
A look at the 1999 governors' races:
Mississippi: Both parties avoided runoffs in their August primaries. That wasn't a surprise in the Democratic contest, where Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove defeated former state Supreme Court Justice James Roberts comfortably, 56 percent to 27 percent. But in the GOP race, former congressman Mike Parker, who was thought to be headed for a runoff, garnered 51 percent to 28 percent for former Lt. Gov. Eddie Briggs and 11 percent for state legislator Charlie Williams.
Musgrove became lieutenant governor when he defeated Republican
Briggs four years ago. Parker is a former Democrat who switched
to the GOP while he was a member of Congress. Parker chose not to
seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998.
Musgrove and Parker are likely to talk a great deal about education,
with the Democrat proposing an increase in teacher salaries, and
the Republican talking about school vouchers and merit pay hikes for teachers.
Public polling before the primary showed Musgrove ahead of Parker
by about 14 points, but GOP insiders point to more recent Republican
polling showing that two candidates in a statistical dead heat.
Both parties are expected to pour resources into the race since
it is clearly the most competitive of 1999's three gubernatorial contests.
Outgoing governor Kirk Fordice (R) ordinarily might be an asset
for Parker. But Republicans would just as soon forget about the
governor, who has been having an affair and has proved to be an
embarrassment to the state and to his party.
Louisiana: Gov. Mike Foster (R) is favored for reelection, but that hasn't stopped a number of candidates from getting in the race to challenge him. And continued reporting about Foster's political dealings with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in the 1995 gubernatorial
race remains a question mark hanging over the governor.
Foster, a former Democrat who was elected four years ago as a populist
outsider, continues to run well ahead in the polls. But some conservatives are less than enthusiastic about him now, complaining that he has changed his position on gambling and has governed as an establishment insider.
State Sen. Tom Greene (R), a conservative from Iberville Paris,
has jumped into the race, giving disgruntled conservatives an alternative to Foster.
Also in the race is Rep. Bill Jefferson, an African-American Democrat
who flirted with a run for governor four years ago but eventually
dropped out of that contest. Jefferson, who served in the state
legislature before being elected to Congress in 1990, portrays himself
as a liberal populist, and he has already been endorsed by the state Democratic Party.
Another Democrat, attorney Phil Preis, is also a candidate. Preis
ran for governor in 1995, finishing fifth (behind two Republicans
and two Democrats) with 9 percent of the vote.
The state's open primary is scheduled for October 23. If no candidate
gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers, regardless of
party, will meet in a November 20 runoff. Foster is a clear favorite to win another term.
Kentucky: Gov. Paul Patton (D) is coasting to reelection after the state's GOP was unable to recruit a top tier challenger to him.
Patton, who won a narrow 51 percent-49 percent victory four years ago over Republican opponent Larry Forgy, seems to be popular. That fact, plus the state's long-time Democratic bent, convinced credible Republicans to take a pass on this year's race.
The GOP nominee is Peppy Martin, a publicist who narrowly won a
GOP primary. She is not regarded by Republican insiders as a credible
nominee, and most of the state's visible Republican officeholders
have all but ignored her campaign (though Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning
recently suggested he would help her raise funds).
The most interesting thing about this race may well be the candidacy
of Reform Party hopeful Gatewood Galbraith, an attorney who favors
the legalization of marijuana. In 1995, Galbraith drew 9 percent in the
Democratic primary for governor.
Patton is expected to be reelected easily.