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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Stovall decision draw big yawns in N.E. Kansas

Residents around Westmoreland more interested in state budget matters

April 17, 2002

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— To some residents of northeast Kansas, Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall's political future was old news by Tuesday. Tax increases and the Legislature are bigger issues, they say.

As she ended her campaign for the Republican nomination for governor on Monday, Stovall said most people would not be affected by her decision.

Residents here could not agree more.

"Good luck to her with her new boyfriend," said Terry Newman, referring to Stovall's relationship with broadcaster and personality Larry Steckline. "If you can have a life outside politics, I say good for her. It doesn't affect me."

Newman, 42, receives disability benefits for a bad back and helps his brother occasionally at Newman's Grocery. The governor's race is important to him, he said, because he doesn't want anyone elected who would cut off his benefits.

"That's why it means something to me," he said. "What they do will directly affect me. I'm more worried about the Legislature right now."

Betty Hamilton, 54, said she doesn't have time to pay attention to the governor's race between her cashier's job at Newman's Grocery and her night classes toward a degree in wildlife management and conservation.

"I'll vote, but I haven't been able to keep up with things lately," she said.

As he waited at the front of the store for his wife, Dwight Nelson, 68, a retired mill worker, said Stovall's decision wouldn't affect him at all. The couple leave Westmoreland for south Texas every winter.

"I'm not that familiar with them anyway," Nelson said of the political players. "Besides, I probably won't be around to vote in November."

At Harrington's Liquor Store in Frankfort, 21 miles to the north, owner Charlie Harrington wanted to talk about the legislative session rather than Stovall and the governor's race.

"Her dropping out of the race isn't going to affect my life one way or the other," he said. "I think more people are concerned about this Legislature."

Harrington said an unfinished budget and the lack of a budget-balancing tax plan two major matters left hanging when lawmakers began their two-week break were worrisome. And he was upset about proposals to raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.

"It seems like they want to penalize a minority. At least sales tax gets everyone," he said. "They've been up there for 90 days and haven't appeared to do anything."

He added: "I don't think too many people are going to pay attention to the governor's race."

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