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Looking to Washington

Starting with her hometown of Anaconda, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy A. Keenan toured her state last week to announce that she will run for Congress next year.

But that doesn't mean she's stepping down as state schools chief any time soon.

Nancy A. Keenan

Ms. Keenan, 47, a Democrat who was elected state superintendent in 1988, plans to run next year for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, a Republican. Ms. Keenan said she'll stress the importance of safe schools and academic standards in her congressional campaign, along with a need to raise wages for working families.

Ms. Keenan taught children with disabilities in the Anaconda public schools when she was elected a state representative in 1982.

Because the Montana legislature meets only every other year and then only for 90 days, she remained a teacher while serving as a legislator and before winning the state chief's post.

Ms. Keenan said she plans to work hard as state superintendent during the day and as a congressional campaigner on evenings and weekends. Her third term as state superintendent expires in December 2000, just before she would have to head to Congress, if elected.

No other Democrats had announced their candidacy last week. And Mr. Hill has not decided whether to seek re-election, an aide said.

Meanwhile, although he is just four months into his new job as Florida's education commissioner, Tom Gallagher is also scoping out his job prospects on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, a second-term Republican, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2000, and Mr. Gallagher launched an exploratory committee this month to examine the possibility of a Senate campaign.

When Florida voters elected Mr. Gallagher, 55, to the education commissioner's post last November, they also voted to change the job to an appointed position, not a partisan, elected one. "I have to look at recognizing this job doesn't exist at the end of this term," Mr. Gallagher told The Tampa Tribune.

--Mary Ann Zehr & Jessica L. Sandham

Vol. 18, Issue 37, Page 18

Published in Print: May 26, 1999, as State Journal

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