Archive for Tuesday, October 8, 1996


October 8, 1996


Gov. Bill Graves' popularity is based on a lack of mistakes, says a Kansas University professor.

Kansas Gov. Bill Graves ranks No. 8 in popularity among the nation's governors, according to a new Journal-World poll.

"He's obviously very popular," said Del Ali, vice president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research, which conducted the survey.

Ali said that during the 50-state survey conducted in September, likely voters were asked to rate the job performances of their governors.

The J-W poll showed that, in Kansas, 11 percent rated Graves' performance as "excellent," 56 percent rated it "good," 28 percent "fair," and 4 percent "poor," with 1 percent undecided.

Graves' total positive marks of 67 percent, the "good" plus the "excellent" responses, put him eighth in terms of popularity among the nation's governors, the survey showed.

Ten of the 11 most popular governors are Republican; Maine's independent Gov. Angus King is the only non-GOP chief executive in the group.

Delaware's Tom Carper (12th) and Florida's Lawton Chiles (13th) are the two most popular Democratic governors.

Mike Matson, Graves' press secretary, said the Kansas governor's high positive marks were not a surprise.

"We'd like to think that they're a pretty accurate reflection of the way the people of Kansas think he's doing his job," Matson said. "Bill Graves continues to do what he said he would do when he ran for the office in 1994. And we're hopeful that these numbers are a reflection of that."

Brett Cott, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, agreed that Graves has done what he said he was going to do -- which was to maintain the status quo.

"Working people of Kansas are no better off than when Gov. Graves came in in 1994," he said. "He has no vision and no long-term plan."

Russell Getter, a Kansas University associate professor of political science and government, attributed Graves' popularity with being "a moderate and judicious administrator."

"He has not made very many mistakes," Getter said. "In a television age, it's the mistakes that get you in trouble. You'll get a lot more attention by goofing up than by doing things right."

Getter said Graves also received high marks because the people who work with him talk about his integrity and his modesty.

"When he doesn't know something, he asks someone for advice," Getter said.

Graves knows how to work with those who disagree with him, Getter said. And the governor's appointments "have been excellent."

However, Graves overestimated his own ability when he appointed former Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm to fill Bob Dole's U.S. Senate seat, Getter said. Frahm lost the GOP primary to U.S. Rep. Sam Brownback, despite Graves' endorsement.

Graves will eventually lose some stature for first backing Frahm, then, immediately after the election, endorsing Brownback instead of taking his time about it, Getter said.

"That, in my judgment, was a political mistake," Getter said.

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