Silent Running

This is Jane Hull's first high-profile statewide race. The voters have a right to know where she stands in 1998 on every issue, and she has the obligation to tell them.

Hull campaign manager Mike Hull--her son--insists the decision to deep-six the questionnaires is about expedience, not evasion.

"The amount of questionnaires that comes in for a gubernatorial race is unbelievable," he says, estimating the number will top 100 before the campaign's over. "There is no way that you can fill out that many applications."

Mike Hull says Jane doesn't need to dilly-dally with questionnaires because she's already the incumbent with an established record. Non-incumbents have no choice but to return the questionnaires; incumbents generally don't, he claims. For example, says Mike Hull, in 1994 then-governor Fife Symington did not return questionnaires during his reelection bid.

Not so, says Jay Heiler, former Symington chief of staff.
"The Symington campaign did, in fact, respond to a great many questionnaires, I think--probably most of them," Heiler says.

The reality is that Jane Hull and her campaign advisers believe she doesn't need to return questionnaires, not because she is an incumbent, but because it's incumbent upon her to keep quiet. Hull is ahead in the polls, way ahead. Why should she put out a message now? That could ruin everything.

Her opponent, Paul Johnson, has a much different task. He's scrambling to accept every public speaking engagement and fill in every questionnaire. His staff even coughed up the campaign's entire pile of 30-plus completed surveys, upon request.

Given their circumstances, both Hull and Johnson are wise strategists. But that doesn't make Hull's tactics any less disappointing. Mike Hull obviously knows this, for he offers a weak substitute.

No, the campaign isn't answering questionnaires, Hull says. But he has spoken to the hundreds of people who have called the campaign with specific questions about Jane Hull's positions. If all of the state's 300,000 or so voters decide to call before election day, Hull campaign staffers are going to be busy.

You can reach the Hull '98 headquarters at 462-5353. Ask for Mike.

Contact Amy Silverman at 229-8443 or at her online address: asilverman@newtimes.com

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