Elect Elvis, defeat a sibling or vote in a better coffee

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The first lady of Arkansas relishes politics so much that she's running for secretary of state on her husband's ticket. Family ties are more frayed in Connecticut, where the mother and siblings of state Rep. Dennis Cleary have taken out a newspaper ad urging his defeat.

While weighty issues dominate the congressional campaign scene, not all is somber or staid on the state and local election front as Nov. 5 approaches.

A professional Elvis impersonator, Bruce Borders, is a Republican candidate for state representative in Indiana. In Berkeley, Calif., voters will decide on a ballot initiative requiring coffee houses to sell environmentally and politically correct brews. Oregon's last dry town, Monmouth, will decide whether to go wet.

Among the distinctive candidates are several asking for voters' trust despite past brushes with the law.

The Missouri state auditor's race features Republican Al Hanson, a former commodities trader and tire dealer who served nine months in prison after a 1978 felony conviction for consumer fraud. The state GOP has disavowed him.

Bob Newland, Libertarian candidate in a three-way race for South Dakota attorney general, has seen how law enforcement works on many occasions. He's been arrested or charged 26 times since 1988 for infractions ranging from tax evasion to possessing a loaded gun while intoxicated.

Former Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt was ousted from office in 1993 when convicted on an ethics charge.

Pardon and parole officials restored his rights; now he's running for state Senate.

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