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Idaho Could Elect First Native-American Governor

STATE Attorney General Larry EchoHawk could become the first Native American governor in the United States. The great-grandson of a Pawnee scout is a Democrat and ``F.O.B.'' (friend of Bill Clinton) who has attracted the support of such wealthy Hollywood campaign donors as Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

But Mr. EchoHawk also is a Mormon and a relatively conservative Democrat who opposes abortion, gun control, and Indian tribal casinos. ``In the Midwest or East he would be considered a Republican ... a relatively conservative Republican,'' says University of Idaho political scientist Florence Heffron.

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Nobody makes much of EchoHawk's ethnic background, but his religion is another matter in Idaho. There was some stir when he raised campaign funds in Utah, a heavily Mormon state where he had practiced law and played football at Brigham Young University. The incumbent governor is Cecil Andrus (D), who is retiring. EchoHawk's Republican rival is Phil Batt, who has served as a state legislator, lieutenant governor, and party chairman. On most issues, there are not major differences between the two. Mr. Batt promises to fight ``an intrusive federal government'' and says he won't be ``an echo of Bill Clinton.''

Batt started out well behind in the polls, but the race is ``a dead heat at this point,'' says professor Heffron.

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