In Wyoming, Democrats Run Hard From Clinton

IN state-wide races here, the Democratic hopefuls for governor and United States senator are fending off charges that they are too close to Bill Clinton (whose most recent approval rating dipped to 29 percent in the state).

Mike Sullivan was the first governor to endorse Mr. Clinton in 1992. But now, even though he won his last election by 65 percent, he trails in his race against US Rep. Craig Thomas (R) to succeed retiring US Senator Malcolm Wallop (R).

Secretary of State Kathy Karpan, who's running for governor, has two strikes against her in the eyes of Republicans and others opposed to Clinton policies. Not only was she an early backer of the president in 1992, but she supported Bruce Babbitt in his 1988 bid for the White House.

``Why be cute about it? Of course he's a liability,'' Ms. Karpan has been quoted as saying of her ties to Clinton. Her race against Republican state Sen. Jim Geringer is a close one. Wyoming Republicans outnumber Democrats 54 percent to 36 percent, but mostly Democrats have won the governorship over the years.

``For a Democrat to win here they've got to attract substantial independent and some Republican votes,'' says University of Wyoming political scientist James King.

Whether Democrats Sullivan and Karpan can do that this year is unclear.

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