St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Election briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 9, 2000

Business leaders see gridlock and like it

WASHINGTON -- While Tuesday's elections have left most Americans feeling unsatisfied, the ambiguous results seem to be playing well with at least one group: the business community.

From Wall Street to Main Street on Wednesday, there was an audible sigh of relief over the fact that, regardless of who becomes president, neither party had gained the mandate and working majority in Congress necessary to push through a bold and ideologically driven agenda.

"What we have, in effect, is a coalition government," said Thomas Donahue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, addressing his board of directors meeting in Washington. "On the things that really count, it will require compromise and coalition-building to get anything done -- and, by the way, we prefer that."

"This is a moment for pragmatism and bipartisanship," agreed Jerry Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. "Big tax cuts, huge spending increases, wholesale reform of Social Security and Medicare -- these things are now out of the question."

Women's congressional gains may tie '92 record

WASHINGTON -- Even as the nation puzzled over what it means for the political parties, one clear outcome from Tuesday's voting is that women made dramatic gains in the U.S. Congress.

The new Senate will have at least a dozen and perhaps 13 women members, by far the highest number in history.

In the House, women also added to their ranks, going up by four to their highest total ever, 60 members.

However, the change is striking for the upper chamber, which just over eight years ago had only two female members.

"In the fogginess of the results last night, there was a real shining bring spot, and that is the new women elected to the Senate," said Ellen Malcolm, president of Emily's List, a group that began in 1986 to provide backing and funding for Democratic women. The group mobilized $8.9-million in campaign contributions.

If current vote counts hold, the gains tie the record of the 1992 "year of the woman," when four female senators were elected.

Turnout better than in '96, but called 'very low'

Americans appear consistent in their ho-hum attitude toward voting, even during the tightest of presidential races.

Only 50.7 percent of eligible voters, or 104.5-million people, cast a ballot Tuesday, "putting it in the range of very low turnout," said Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate in Washington, D.C.

In 1996, 49.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, according to the Federal Election Commission. It will be weeks before the FEC releases its turnout estimates, but Gans' organization is a well-respected think tank on voter trends.

Puerto Rico rejects pro-statehood candidates

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Voters put the brakes on an eight-year drive to make Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state, choosing an anti-statehood governor and ousting a veteran pro-statehood politician from the U.S. Congress.

Raucous street parties that lasted through Tuesday's elections and into Wednesday morning -- and at least one violent clash between rival party supporters -- marked the victory of San Juan Mayor Sila Calderon over former transport secretary Carlos Pesquera.

She will become the first female governor in the history of this Caribbean U.S. territory of 4-million Spanish speakers.

With 99.4 percent of votes counted Wednesday, the elections commission announced Calderon the winner by 55,000 votes, with 48.5 percent of votes to the pro-statehood Pesquera's 45.7 percent.

Independence Party leader Ruben Berrios had 5.2 percent.

Voters also replaced Carlos Romero Barcelo, their delegate to Congress and a former two-term governor. In his place they chose lawmaker Anibal Acevedo Vila, who led a successful campaign against statehood in a 1998 referendum.

Winners . . .

"ERIN BROCKOVICH' LAWYER: Ed Masry, a lawyer portrayed in the hit movie Erin Brockovich, was elected to the Thousand Oaks, Calif., City Council on a slow-growth platform. Masry won a four-year term Tuesday in this Southern California city of 120,000.

He and legal assistant Brockovich won a $333-million lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric on behalf of residents of the town of Hinkley who claimed the utility contaminated their water. In the movie dramatizing the battle, Julia Roberts played Brockovich, and Albert Finney was Masry.

TEEN LAWMAKER: Just old enough to vote, 18-year-old Derrick Seaver won a seat in the Ohio House by 235 votes.

Seaver, a Democrat, beat Republican David Shiffer to win with 22,411 of 44,587 votes cast, according to unofficial results. Seaver enlisted fellow high school students in the campaign.

. . . and losers

ALTERNATIVE-FUELS PROPONENT: Arizona House Speaker Jeff Groscost, chief architect of a program to subsidize alternative-fuel cars that ballooned into a $483-million debacle, lost a bid for re-election and resigned his leadership post Wednesday. The Republican was defeated 2-to-1 Tuesday by Democrat Jay Blanchard.

Original estimates were that the program would cost the state $3-million, but some 20,000 people applied for tax credits and grants to buy new vehicles and convert them to run on alternative fuels, driving the cost up to about $483-million.

GRAND CANYON DEVELOPMENT: Residents of Coconino County, Ariz., voted down an initiative that would have allowed construction of a commercial and residential development just south of the Grand Canyon.

RESORT CASINO: Greenbrier County, W.Va., voters rejected, 60 percent to 40 percent, a proposal to open an underground casino in a former Cold War bomb shelter, but the plan's supporters aren't surrendering.

The law that put the issue before the voters allows the Greenbrier Resort to put it back on the ballot before 2002.

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From the Times election desk


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