GOP governors see education as weapon in 1998 races They want states to gain power over regulations

November 23, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MIAMI -- Fresh from victories in Virginia and New Jersey, Republican governors met in Miami over the weekend to plot strategy for 36 gubernatorial elections in 1998. They declared that education would be the next issue they would use to try to move power from Washington to the states.

On top of the Republicans' education agenda is a request that Congress and the Department of Education eliminate federally required paperwork and regulations on schools.

"What we want Congress to do with education is exactly what it did with welfare three years ago," said South Carolina Gov. David Beasley, the incoming chairman of the Republican Governors' Association. "Give us the flexibility."

Throughout the three-day meeting here, the Republicans have showcased the easy victory by James S. Gilmore III in this month's gubernatorial election in Virginia.

While Gilmore's most potent issue seemed to be his pledge to cut an unpopular property tax on automobiles, he also focused ** heavily on plans to reduce class sizes by hiring 4,000 more teachers for elementary schools.

"We showed that we can run on education and can win on education," said Gilmore, who accompanied the outgoing governor, George F. Allen, to the meeting at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa here.

Democratic leaders scoffed at the notion that Republicans could develop credibility on education.

"Some of the Republican governors can legitimately run on education, but the problem is that the Congress has been awful on education," said Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association, at a meeting of the Association of State Democratic Chairs in Miami Beach. "We're going to wrap that around their necks."

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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