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New York Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz will not seek re-election to a 10th term. The veteran lawmaker, first elected in 1988, was appointed majority leader by Speaker Sheldon Silver in 2001. He sponsored New York's "motor voter" constitutional amendment and was key in establishing an arts and cultural fund. "It came down to family," Tokasz said of his decision to retire. "I'm a home guy." Possible candidates for majority leader are Ronald Canestrari, Joseph Morelle and RoAnn Destito. Silver is expected to make his choice in January.

A husband and wife from Kansas may be facing off in November for the same open seat. Pam Ippel, a Democrat, is unopposed in the August primary. Her husband Jeff is in a three-way GOP primary race. Pam decided first to run, then Jeff jumped in. "Better ideas," he says. But one of his opponents, Jeff Colyer, believes it's an attempt to divide the vote to ensure than moderate candidate Sherrelyn Smith gets the nomination. "It's an absolute sham," says outgoing Representative Eric Carter, who is leaving to run for state insurance commissioner. "They're trying to confuse voters and manipulate the process." Kansas Sate University political science professor Joe Aistrup has another take: "It's about time the moderates started pulling this stuff. Conservatives have been running stealth candidates for years."

The chief of staff to former Illinois House Minority Lee Daniels was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and will pay $120,000 for directing state employees to work on campaigns on state time. Michael Tristano faced nine counts in a federal indictment that included extortion, a charge that was dropped although Tristano admitted to it. Tristano admitted to approving false expense forms so employees working on campaigns would be paid by the state from 1998 to 2001. The estimated cost to the state was $120,000, which he agreed to pay. He said he violated the law "out of loyally to House Republican leadership," and that others above him were instructing him to do so. "Frankly, I compromised my conscience to fit in and go along," he said. Tristano said the plan was to use state money to reduce the cost to the House Republican Campaign Committee.

A first-term Arizona legislator will sit out the primary and general elections in Iraq. Representative Jonathan Paton, an intelligence officer in the Army Reserves, volunteered for a five-to-six month tour of duty, which began in August. Paton says his campaign is in good shape, and he will get help from some of his colleagues in carrying out election duties. "This is a decision he has strong feelings about," said Speaker Jim Weiers. "I don't see anything negative. I am extremely proud of this young man." Paton sponsored Arizona's immigrant-smuggling law last year.

It looked as though two Montana state Senate leaders vying for the job of U.S. senator would face off in November. In June, Senate President Jon Tester won his Democratic primary, but Senate Minority Leader Bob Keenan lost by a substantial margin to incumbent Senator Conrad Burns in the Republican primary. Tester will face Burns this fall.

In New Jersey, state Senator Tom Kean won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and former Speaker Albio Sires won the Democratic primary for Congress in June.

Mitch for a Majority" is Indiana Governor Mirth Daniels' new PAC created to keep the Legislature in Republican hands. It's the first time a Hoosier governor has started a political action committee to benefit legislative campaigns.

David Burnell Smith, a first-term lawmaker and criminal lawyer from Carefree, is the first Arizona state legislator to be removed from office for campaign finance violations. Smith overspent his campaign limits by some $6,000, was fined $10,000, and ordered to pay back $34,625. Now the former House member is going up against three other candidates in the GOP primary for an open seat. According to a Phoenix political strategist and pollster, Smith has "an excellent chance of being re-elected."

The mystery surrounding the death of former Nevada lawmaker and state controller Kathy Augustine has the elements of a made-for-TV movie. A healthy 50-year-old is found unconscious in her home by her new husband and dies three days later. He is a man eight years her junior who was a critical care nurse in the unit where her previous husband died and with whom she flew to Hawaii just three weeks later and proposed marriage. She was his fourth wife. He attempted suicide three days after Augustine died, did not attend her funeral and has not been seen by neighbors since. Toxicology tests are being conducted at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va. Augustine's former husband's family says they will request an exhumation of his body if the tests on Augustine come back positive. She was running in the Republican primary for state treasurer, but the party refused to support her because she was impeached by the Nevada Assembly, found guilty on one count of violating state ethics laws during her 2002 campaign for re-election as controller, and censured but allowed to remain in office.
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Title Annotation:TRENDS AND TRANSITIONS; legislator elections
Publication:State Legislatures
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Previous Article:The more you know ...
Next Article:Toll temptations.

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