- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002


Republicans in Maine and South Carolina chose their candidates for governor yesterday, and voters in both states also picked nominees to run for open U.S. House seats. North Dakota residents decided a landmark ballot issue on financial privacy.

Former Rep. Mark Sanford and Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler advanced to a runoff for South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial nomination. They were the top two vote-getters in a seven-candidate field, but neither received more than half the vote to avoid the June 25 runoff.

With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Sanford had 96,084 votes, or 41 percent, and Mr. Peeler had 82,335 votes, or 35 percent. Attorney General Charlie Condon and the other candidates trailed.

The winner will challenge Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges, whose promise of a state lottery to aid education helped him topple a Republican incumbent in 1998. Republicans hope to oust Mr. Hodges this fall by tying him to South Carolina's rocky economy, increased unemployment and deep cuts at state agencies.

A runoff was also expected in South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District, where six Republicans battled for the nomination to succeed Republican Rep. Lindsey Graham, who is seeking the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond. The winner is expected to defeat Democrat George Brightharp in the heavily Republican House district this fall.

In Maine, Republicans chose businessman Peter Cianchette over educator Jim Libby in the gubernatorial primary. With 25 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Cianchette had 65 percent of the votes to Mr. Libby's 35 percent.

Mr. Cianchette will be the fifth candidate in the crowded race to succeed independent Gov. Angus King, who is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term.

Uncontested in their primaries were Democratic Rep. John Baldacci, who is leaving the House after four terms, and Jonathan Carter, a Green Party candidate who could qualify for $900,000 in public campaign funds in his second gubernatorial bid. Democrats worry he could hurt them in the fall.

In North Dakota, residents decided whether banks must get written permission to sell customer information to other businesses, the first such vote on financial privacy in the United States.

North Dakotans also voted on a constitutional amendment, which would allow candidates to run for offices in counties where they do not live. The proposal was intended to make it easier for rural areas to find county prosecutors and other professionals.

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