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THE TOP TEN REASONS TO FOLLOW THE ELECTIONS ON TUESDAY
Published November 4, 1994
Will the Democrats hold the House and Senate? Which big- name incumbents are going to get bounced? What shape will Bill Clinton be in for his re-election run? Sure, it's not as exciting as baseball and hockey labor negotiations. But, in fact, there are reasons for the sports industry to keep an eye on the election returns Tuesday night. Here is THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY's Top Ten list: 1) HOME ON THE RANGE. George W. Bush, the Managing General Partner of the Texas Rangers, is looking to become the top executive of the whole state of Texas. A poll released last night has Bush leading incumbent Democrat Ann Richards, 48-44%, but it could go either way. What could it mean for Bush's ballclub? The team is involved in a tax dispute with the state, so being governor couldn't hurt. For the record, Richards has the support of Ross Perot. But Bush has Nolan Ryan in his bullpen. 2) ALL-AROUND-THE BELTWAY. If Abe Pollin and Jack Kent Cooke had their way there would be a new construction boom in the DC area. Pollin wants to move his Capitals and Bullets into a new downtown arena, which would be built with public support. The early indications are that the project would not be slowed under Marion Barry, the favorite to return as mayor. Cooke's hopes for a suburban Maryland stadium were dealt a blow when local activists won a zoning battle. Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a longtime Cooke foe and Colts fan, is leaving office. But his replacement may not even have to deal with the stadium issue as Barry is expected to make a major play to Cooke to keep the Redskins in DC. As far as baseball inside-the- Beltway goes, Fairfax County, VA, Board Chairman Tom Davis, one of the leading proponents of MLB expansion and accompanying stadium efforts in Northern VA, could add some congressional weight to the fight. Davis is locked in a tight race against freshman Democratic Rep. Leslie Byrne. 3) WIN, LOSE OR DRAW. There are ballot initiatives in seven states -- CO, FL, NE, MO, RI, SD and WY -- to expand gambling in one form or another. While sports betting is not involved in any one of these ballot questions, the pressure could increase on Congress to allow sports betting in the new states where casino gambling becomes legalized. 4) ORRIN ON DECK? Should the Republicans take over the Senate (as some predict and many Democrats fear), Orrin Hatch, a newfound antitrust exemption opponent, would assume chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee. 5) SPORTS POLITICOS. The 104th Congress could feature an Oklahoma delegation with a powerful offense. Former Sooner star J.C. Watts and NFL great Steve Largent are both favored for election in open U.S. House seats. Drag racing great "Big Daddy" Don Garlits was off the line with a burst of speed in his House race in FL, but he may be flaming out down the stretch. Senator Herb Kohl is a shoo-in for re-election, especially after getting the Big Dog in the fold. In fact, Kohl is getting great press this morning. MILWAUKEE SENTINEL's Dale Hofmann writes, "Their seems to be no doubt that Herb Kohl is the man who closed the deal that added basketball's most coveted rookie to the local labor force, although there is speculation about whether he was functioning as a candidate or as owner of the Milwaukee Bucks at the time. ... Which was a more important date in the equation, Friday's NBA opener, or Tuesday's election?" 6) TAXACHUSETTS. Question 7 on the Massachusetts ballot would change the state's flat income tax rate of 5.9% to a graduated system in which those individuals making more than $90,000 would be taxed at 9.8%. Agent Leigh Steinberg notes that teams in states with high tax rates are at a disadvantage when it comes to free agents. Steinberg told the BOSTON HERALD earlier this week: "The salary cap will definitely make it tougher for Boston teams (Patriots and Celtics) to match another team's contract offer for bottom-line guys when you calculate in the tax difference." 7) CALIFORNIA TEAMIN'? The Rams have made three separate campaign contributions to Gov. Pete Wilson's re-election bid totalling $25,000. At the time, some speculated that the team was angling for some state aid for a new stadium. While recent polls show that they might have picked the right candidate, Rams President John Shaw's recent statements indicate the donations could be a parting gift as the team heads off for points East or Midwest. 8) CANDIDATE SURFING. A Republican Senate also could have major implications for the direction future telecomm legislation could take. Under a Republican majority, Sen. Bob Packwood would take over as chairman of the Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommitee from Democrat Daniel Inouye. According to a recent issue of MULTICHANNEL NEWS, Inouye has been a "strong backer" of broadcasters and the "must-carry" provision that requires cable operators to include all local broadcast stations on their systems. Without "must-carry," cable operators could add newer or niche channels, such as ESPN2 or the Golf Channel. 9) RAISING STADIUMS IN ARIZONA? The Phoenix MLB expansion effort is considered to be one of the front-runners should baseball decide to add new franchises. But there is no consensus in Arizona between the two candidates for governor on whether a stadium in Maricopa County should be built with public funds. Embattled Republican Gov. Fife Symington supports a $238 million sales tax for a retractable roof stadium; his Democratic opponent, Eddie Basha, does not. Basha's proposed tax hikes would go toward transportation and education.....Voters in Mesa face a referendum on whether there need be referenda on economic development issues, including new stadiums. Many see this ballot question as a model for a similar statewide movement, which could potentially impact the Cactus League. 10) ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL. Tigers and Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch has grand plans for an entertainment complex in Detroit which would include a new stadium and arena. Ilitch plans to head back to the legislature with a modified proposal. An anti-incumbent tide in Michigan could give the Republicans both houses in the state legislature for the first time in 26 years, which means that Ilitch will likely be dealing with out- state conservatives instead of Detroit liberals....In Seattle, voters are being urged by one of the city's papers to take a closer look at the bond issues on the ballot. They remind voters that spending on the Kingdome and a new baseball stadium could eat into resources for schools or libraries.