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Washington Journal: Sons Of Former President Bush Elected Governors

By Annie Hillar

Washington, 4 November 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Two brothers, sons of former U.S. President George Bush, won their races in Tuesday's U.S. state governor elections, making them the second set of brothers in U.S. history to serve as governors at the same time.

George Bush, Jr., was re-elected governor of the southwestern state of Texas. In the southern state of Florida, voters elected his brother Jeb. Both are Republicans, as is their father, who was president from 1988-1992.

The last time two brothers governed states simultaneously was in the 1960s, with Nelson Rockefeller in New York and his brother Winthrop in Arkansas.

Texas Governor Bush is already being talked about as a likely Republican Party candidate for president in the year 2000.

A total of 36 of the 50 states chose governors Tuesday. With 32 races tallied, the Republican Party had a 21-10 edge in governors over the Democrats. The governor of the northeastern state of Maine, Angus King, is an independent, and he was re-elected Tuesday. State governors hold office for four-year terms.

The majority of incumbents running for re-election from both parties won their races.

Besides Texas, Republican governors were re-elected in Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio have elected first-term Republican governors. None of those states had an incumbent who was running for re-election.

Democratic incumbents won in Alaska, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont.

Incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of the northeastern state of New Hampshire won her race. There are three women governors in the nation, the most ever to serve at one time.

First-term Democrats took the governors' seats in Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina. Iowa has not had a Democratic governor since 1962.

The most-watched governor's race was in California, with Democrat Gray Davis winning. It will be the first time in 16 years that the most populous U.S. state has a Democratic governor.

The governors' races are especially important this year because those elected will be in office during the congressional and state legislative redistricting that will take place after the national census in the year 2000.

A state's congressional districts are determined by its population, which is counted every ten years. Each state is guaranteed at least one seat in the House. The last census in 1990 established that a House district represented about 600,000 people. Districts drawn after the 2000 census will stay in place for another decade.

The way districts are laid out can affect which party has the advantage in congress for years to come. Many governors play a major role in the remapping process.