In Governors’ Races, No Change in Party Balance

By Bess Keller — November 08, 2000 1 min read

Voters in the nation’s 11 gubernatorial races barely adjusted the scales of party power in Tuesday’s elections, handing Democrats one more chief executive’s position but leaving Republicans with 29.

The change came in West Virginia, where U.S. Rep. Bob Wise, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Cecil Underwood. Among other differences on education, Mr. Wise favors funding for a college-scholarship program approved by the legislature last year that would provide grants to all students whose grades qualified them, while Gov. Underwood’s believes that, as long as the state budget remains tight, the state should continue funding for need-based scholarships only. In the last weeks of the campaign, Mr. Underwood sought approval from the state school board to post the Ten Commandments in West Virginia classrooms, but the board turned down the proposal.

In other hard-fought governors’ races, state Treasurer Bob Holden, a Democrat, won over U.S. Rep. Jim Talent, a Republican, in Missouri, and Lt. Gov. Judy Martz of Montana, a Republican, squeaked past state Auditor Mark O’Keefe, a Democrat. Mr. Holden and Mr. Talent differed over school vouchers, with Mr. Holden opposed to them and Mr. Talent in favor of trying them in the low- performing districts of St. Louis and Kansas City.

In Montana, Ms. Martz and Mr. O’Keefe differed over how much to emphasize education in the state’s quest for more high-tech jobs. Ms. Martz stressed economic development, while Mr. O’Keefe put education first. Both candidates, how-ever, made proposals for recruiting, retaining and improving the quality of the state’s teachers.