N.H. governor Shaheen leads tight election race
As the election in November nears, New Hampshire gubernatorial candidates Jeanne Shaheen and Gordon Humphreys continue to spar over the issues of a state income tax and educational funding.
Since the last election for governor in the state, the possibility of a need for new state taxes to support local schools has become increasingly likely.
While neither candidate is in favor of imposing a state income tax, the Democratic incumbent Shaheen created a state commission to explore the idea. After vetoing an income tax bill in the spring, the Republican Humphreys has openly opposed the tax, proposing to freeze educational spending at its present levels.
This governor's race has attracted widespread media attention which "could be a function of the high profile of the education debate," said Professor of Government Dean Spiliotes. Funding for education has also been a major issue in the presidential campaigns of Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush.
Spiliotes also pointed out that Shaheen has attracted attention as one of the nation's first female governors, and that she was mentioned this spring as a possible running mate for Gore. Humphreys has served as a U.S. Senator and, more recently, in the New Hampshire state senate.
As always, the gubernatorial office is important nationally because it oversees New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, Spiliotes said. The primary is very influential in determining eventual presidential candidates.
On issues other than taxes and education, Humphreys hopes to be helped by his positions favoring small businesses and a less expensive state government. Shaheen is counting on gaining votes from her support of improved health care, affordable housing and protecting the environment.
Shaheen held a double-digit lead in recent polls, but the race is expected to heat up throughout October. "There is a lot at stake," commented Spiliotes.