- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said yesterday that he does not believe President Bush's strong popularity will help elect Republican candidates this year in the midterm elections.
Mr. Rowland said that "you can't transfer popularity."
"We talk a lot about coattails, and many of us as governors have done extremely well in our states, yet we have not reflected on state representatives or state Senate races or even congressional races," he said. "All politics are local."
However, he stressed that the president's popularity would provide a boost to Republicans.
"But what it does mean is that this president, with his extraordinary popularity five months after the horrific events of September 11, that his brand of Republicanism will help our candidates. His performance, his leadership capabilities, will reflect on our entire Republican image, and it will help in fund raising," Mr. Rowland said at a news conference yesterday at the beginning of a four-day meeting of the National Governors Association here in the District.
"Let me put it this way: Would I rather have a Bill Clinton in the White House or a George W. Bush? Clearly, we are pretty excited about having this president performing above anyone's expectations. But I don't believe in the halo effect. I don't really believe in the transfer of so-called popularity," he said.
Mr. Rowland also said he did not think that the administration's tax cuts and an expected $100 billion deficit would be issues among the governors in a sluggish economy that is affecting their state revenues. Unlike some Democratic congressional leaders, he said that no one among the Republican governors would call for repealing some of the tax cuts.
"I don't think you are going to see Republican governors making those requests because all of us that have been in office over the last several years have cut taxes in our own states as a way to stimulate our own economy," Mr. Rowland said.
Michigan Gov. John Engler, a Republican and chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), said yesterday that the weak economy is causing problems for states.
"The situation probably will get worse before it gets better," Mr. Engler said. "The recovery of state revenues lags behind the recovery of the national economy."
Governors confront a series of challenges in managing their economies, he said, from outdated tax strategies to the extra costs of homeland security.
"On September 11, the world changed," Mr. Engler said. "I don't think any of us could have imagined the impact that would have on our jobs as governor, in some ways changing our roles forever."
Governors will consider a proposal for reauthorization of welfare, discuss how to deal with the rising costs of Medicaid and demand that the federal government not slash transportation money for states.
This article is based in part on wire service reports


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