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New World for GOP Governors

Politics: Less mudslinging and more budget woes will shape 2002 races, they learn.

November 11, 2001|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Political consultants told a group of Republican governors Saturday that the new mood across the country since Sept. 11 demands less election-year mudslinging.

The terrorist attacks also created security concerns and budget problems that will be key issues in campaigns, the strategists said on the last day of the Republican Governors Assn. annual conference.

"Personal attacks are going to be harder and harder to engage in," said Republican media consultant Russ Schriefer.

Sixteen of the nation's 29 GOP governors were in Las Vegas to discuss homeland security, the economy and the 2002 elections. The conference began Thursday, two days after Republicans lost the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey to Democrats.

Next year, 36 states will elect a governor; Republicans hold 23 of those seats.

"We're defending 23," said Republican media strategist Mike Murphy. "We've got some tough races."

Murphy and GOP pollster Bill McInturff said President Bush's high approval ratings may not be enough to help them.

"We're fools if we're going to rely on him and his numbers to bail us out," Murphy said.

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, chairman of the governors association, said 2002 races will be difficult because of the ailing economy.

"We've all enjoyed huge surpluses over the years. We are all trying to trim spending," he said Friday.

Still, said Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, many issues from before Sept. 11, such as education, remain important.

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