The 1998 Elections Are Over

Motorcyclists around the country find both reason for celebration and concern. The elections held last Tuesday show interesting changes but may have little effect on the support for motorcycling issues overall. Even though the U. S. Senate seat in six states changed from one party to the other the balance of power in the Senate will remain the same. The Republican party retained 55 seats and Democrats maintained their hold on the other 45 seats. Republicans barely maintained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives losing 5 seats to the Democrats bringing the balance of power to 222 Republican, 211 Democrat, one independent, and now the soon to be created vacancy by the Speaker's resignation.

Motorcyclists both lost and gained friends in Congress in this election. Motorcyclists lost a strong supporter in Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) who lost to State Senator Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) in a race filled with allegations of impropriety. While the loss of Senator Moseley-Braun's advocacy will have an effect on motorcycling issues, Senator Elect Fitzgerald has in the past shown support for motorcycling issues. Good news on the federal level is Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) won re-election with 63% of the vote. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) will continue to be the member at large representing the last frontier. Former Governor of Indiana Evan Bayh (D) will fill the seat of retiring Senator Dan Coats (R-IN). U.S. Representative Jim Bunning (R-KY) was elected to fill retiring Democrat Senator Wendall Ford's seat in the upper house. Former state legislator and ABATE supporter Tom Tancredo (R-CO) will replace retiring Representative Dan Schaefer (R-CO).

Several Governors races around the country have drawn attention from the motorcycling community. Governor Angus King (I-ME) won his race in Maine. Motorcycling Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI) of Wisconsin won re-elected to his fourth term. There are two specific races worthy of attention not as much because of how the out come will affect motorcyclists but because of the underlying messages. There was an interesting turn of events in the Governors election in Alaska. Candidate Robin Taylor, who lost the Republican primary race, received 21% of the vote on a write in campaign in the general election. The official Republican candidate John Lindauer received 17%. Even though neither of the Republicans were able to unseat the incumbent Democrat Tony Knowles the outcome demonstrates the power of a concentrated effort on a write in campaign. In the Minnesota Governor's race the election of Jesse "The Body" Ventura a Reform candidate running against the strength of both the Democrat and Republican parties shows what can happen with straight talk and a down to earth approach. The Ventura campaign was able to mobilize many of the disenfranchised voters. People who in the recent past didn't vote were drawn into the campaign not based on promises but the fact they were made to feel their vote was not electing a professional politician. This is just another example of ordinary people making an extraordinary effort to change the status quo. Governor elect Ventura has been identified as a motorcycle rider and should be open to motorcycling issues.

The election of motorcyclists to state houses around the country was exciting and disappointing at the same time. Gary Klinker, past Executive Director of ABATE of Wisconsin; Rodney Roberts, MRF board member from Arkansas; and Gary Horrocks, of the Nevada Association of Concerned Motorcyclists, all lost bids to serve in their respective state houses. On the positive side Lois Tochtrop, past legislative affairs specialist for ABATE of Colorado was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. It is interesting to note Representative Tochtrop was elected by 23 votes, who says your vote doesn't count. Senator Dave Zien of Wisconsin was re-elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. Sherman Packard and Bob LeTourneau won re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Even though control of the New Hampshire Senate was turned over to the Democratic party for the first time in 90 years the House remained in the hands of the Republican party. Representatives Packard and LeTourneau expect to retain their positions on the House Transportation Committee.

The efforts of motorcyclists in many states was evident by the reelection of many of the pro motorcycling incumbents. Legislators who have in the past supported our many issues found motorcyclists stood behind them and went to the polls to show our support. Once again proving that motorcyclists are involved and have something to offer to the political process. Grassroots politics works. Steve Zimmer Vice President of Government Relations said, "All in all motorcyclists came through the elections in pretty good shape. We retained many of our friends in office even though it could have been better we will go into the 106th Congress with a strong base of support for our issues."

For further information contact Steve at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail at <steve@mrf.org>


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