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November 06, 1998

Maine and Oklahoma voters both approved ballot initiatives designed to encourage technology-based economic development, while voters in other states elected 13 new governors. Eight legislative chambers also switched control.

The Maine initiative authorizes a $20 million bond issue for research and development. The University of Maine system will receive $13.5 million for capital improvements; the Maine Science and Technology Foundation will receive $4.5 million in part for a Research Challenge Grants Program to enhance R&D capacity and productivity; and, the Department of Economic and Community Development will receive $2 million for a laboratory to support applied fishery and marine biotechnology research.

Oklahomans approved two initiatives that are intended to promote the commercialization of university research and support university innovation. State colleges and universities will now be able to let a business use its property to work on technology projects, and they will also be able to own technology and equity in private businesses.

On the national scene, Minnesota and Washington experienced the most dramatic political changes. In Minnesota, Jesse Ventura the Reform Party candidate was elected governor and the Republicans took control of the House; the Democrats retained the majority in the Senate. In Washington, the Democrats took over the House and the Senate; the Democratic governor is up for re-election in 2000.

Thirteen new governors were elected. The number of new governors is a result of two incumbents being defeated, term limits preventing some governors from running, and some incumbents deciding not to run for re-election.

In Alabama and South Carolina, support for a state lottery to fund education apparently played an important role in the election of two Democrats who defeated sitting governors. Those candidates modeled their proposals in part after Georgia's lottery which has resulted in significant new investments in education and technology-based economic development.

States with new governors are:

  • Alabama- Don Siegelman (D) beat the incumbent Fob James (R)
  • California- Gray Davis (D) replaces the term-limited Pete Wilson (R)
  • Colorado- Bill Owens (R) replaces the retiring Roy Romer (D)
  • Florida- Jeb Bush (R) replaces the term-limited Lawton Chiles (D)
  • Georgia- Roy Barnes (D) replaces the term-limited Zell Miller(D)
  • Idaho- Dirk Kempthorne (R) replaces the retiring Philip Batt (R)
  • Illinois- George Ryan (R) replaces the retiring Jim Edgar (R)
  • Iowa- Tom Vilsack (D) replaces the retiring Terry Branstad (R)
  • Minnesota- Jesse Ventura (Reform Party) replaces the retiring Arne Carlson (R)
  • Nebraska- Mike Johanns (R) replaces the term-limited Ben Nelson (D)
  • Nevada- Kenny Guin (R) replaces the term-limited Bob Miller(D)
  • Ohio- Bob Taft (R) replaces the term-limited George Voinovich (R)
  • South Carolina- Jim Hodges (D) defeated the incumbent David Beasley (R)

Incumbents were re-elected in: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In the state legislatures, Democrats picked up control of the: Indiana House, the New Hampshire Senate, the North Carolina House, the Washington House and Senate, and the Wisconsin Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans took over the Michigan House and Minnesota House, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Republicans now control both chambers and the governorship in 14 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Democrats control both chambers and the governorship in 11 states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington.