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Candidates for Governor Talk Tough to Win Votes

VIRTUALLY all the candidates for governor of Pennsylvania agree there's a problem: 171 inmates on ``death row,'' yet no executions since 1962.

None, however, has gone as far as Democrat Charles Volpe, who vows to sign 50 death warrants in his first month on the job.

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Mr. Volpe is far behind in the polls for Tuesday's primary, but the issue he has seized on in is echoed in other state gubernatorial races this year.

* In New York, all five Republicans who want to challenge Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo favor the death penalty, which Mr. Cuomo has vetoed 12 times in 12 years. New York is one of just 13 states without capital punishment.

* In California, Democratic front-runner Kathleen Brown is alone among major candidates in opposing the death penalty. Gov. Pete Wilson strongly supports executions and has run a TV ad attacking Ms. Brown for her stand.

* In Connecticut, outgoing Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of A Connecticut Party has vetoed two bills to make the death penalty easier to impose. Most of the seven candidates seeking to succeed him favor some change in that direction.

* In New Mexico, where a death sentence is rarely imposed, four of seven candidates - including Gov. Bruce King (D) - said they would sign a death warrant for a condemned child killer.

* In Iowa, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and his Republican rival, Rep. Fred Grandy, favor reinstating capital punishment - they just argue over how far to extend it.

* In Tennessee, where more than 100 prisoners await execution, Democrat Frank Cochran wants closed-circuit televisions in prisons tuned to the death chamber so that other inmates can see what the future might hold for them.

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* In Illinois, Democrat Dawn Clark Netsch, who faces GOP incumbent and death penalty supporter Jim Edgar in November, is morally opposed to the death penalty but won't try to stop executions. Republicans accuse her of being soft on crime. High costs may delay base closings

IN a twist worthy of ``Catch-22,'' the Pentagon says that when closing military bases, it costs money to save money. That's why the Clinton administration may delay some closure decisions for two years.

``Can we in fact afford it?'' asked Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Robert Bayer at a Senate hearing Wednesday. With a major round of base closings looming in 1995, that question moved Pentagon officials to consider adding another closure round in 1997 so that next year's round would be less severe.

The government has ordered the closure of 103 bases since 1988, but so far has actually shut down 24.

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