RISING REPUBLICANS

THEY MAY NOT AGREE ON ABORTION OR GUN CONTROL. ONE OF THEM USED TO BE A DEMOCRAT, ANOTHER A PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER. BUT THEY ALL SHARE A TALENT FOR GETTING NOTICED

MICHAEL LEAVITT GOVERNOR OF UTAH

Part of the reason his approval ratings exceed 80% is that Leavitt fits the evolving profile of Utah's citizenry, a conservative group joined lately by cyberhungry and outdoors-loving transplants from the West Coast. He's hip to online projects like the Western-based "virtual university," and he has defended the environment more forcefully than the Republican-controlled state legislature. Still, Leavitt is no Al Gore: he supports the state's strict antiabortion law and the recent ban on after-school clubs, imposed to deter gay-student alliances. If Dole wins, look for Leavitt to be offered a Cabinet post, possibly at Interior.

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