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State Journal: Oops; Spellbinding candidacy?; Finance blues

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Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico is apparently finding the levers of power to be a bit slippery.

Recently, the first-term Governor vetoed legislation calling for a study of the state's school-finance system. That was his prerogative, of course--but the study was one that Mr. Johnson wanted to see completed.

The goof followed a dispute over who would conduct the study, an aide to Mr. Johnson said.

Lawmakers who controlled the budget process assigned the task--and control over the $150,000 earmarked for it--to one committee. Legislators with jurisdiction over the legislation authorizing the study named another committee for the job.

The Governor sided with the first faction. In an effort to settle the issue, he approved the budget but vetoed the authorizing bill. Too late, he learned that such a move effectively voided out the study's line item in the budget.

The Governor is now hoping to fund the study with state emergency-reserve monies.

The 1996 political season opened on an offbeat note in West Virginia earlier this month, when Penny Hoeflinger filed papers declaring herself a candidate for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination.

She drew the attention of reporters largely because she is a self-proclaimed witch.

Ms. Hoeflinger told them that she has recently become a Christian, but went on to describe her previous lifestyle, which included casting spells and ceremonies that featured animal sacrifices.

After filing papers with the state elections office, she has decided on a platform. Her campaign, she said, will focus on education and recycling.

The ruling handed down 13 years ago in West Virginia's landmark school-finance suit is renowned for its 244 pages of painstaking detail. So when a county court agreed to reopen the case, it meant hard work and tough choices for everybody--especially Dan Robinson, the county judge who held hearings on the case last month.

Apparently, he did not find the sessions entertaining."We all want to do the right thing," he told the litigants after the hearings. "But you've sure made a miserable two months for me."

Judge Robinson's ruling is expected within the next month.

--Drew Lindsay & Lonnie Harp

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