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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards Predicts Elections Outcomes

Aired November 5, 2002 - 20:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": Joining us now from Austin, Texas: Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas.
The Texas polls will close in about 7 1/2 minutes. What's your read there?

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: We are going to have an unprecedented turnout, Larry, in Texas, particularly in the South Texas area and the Rio Grande Valley and Hidalgo County. We have turnouts that equal presidential years -- El Paso the same thing. We've got a lot of polling places that ran out of ballots, had to send for more ballots. And that's good news for Democrats.

L. KING: Are you saying that Dallas Mayor Kirk could win that Senate seat?

RICHARDS: Absolutely he can win that Senate seat.

Now, we've got -- always, you have problems. We have got some difficulties in Tarrant County with being able to count ballots. So that may delay the count for a while. And it may skew being able to make any early prediction. But right now, the Democrats are feeling really good.

We had an early vote total of about 1.7 million people that turned out to vote. And if you extrapolate those numbers out against past history, it would indicate we are going to have over five million people voting. If we have five million people voting, the Democrats are going to win a lot of seats here.

L. KING: Governorship, too?

RICHARDS: The governor's race is a tough one. We've got the incumbent that was there as a consequence of Bush leaving and going to the presidency. So that incumbency has played well for him.

But Tony Sanchez has really excited the Hispanic community. If they turn out and vote in the numbers that we think they are capable of producing, Tony Sanchez could win. But it's harder for him than it is, say, for Ron Kirk or John Sharp, who I think will be the lieutenant governor. And Kirk Watson, who's a smart young man, the mayor of Austin, will become the attorney general.

L. KING: What do you make of what we know so far? Lautenberg comes in in New Jersey. Dole comes in in North Carolina. RICHARDS: Yes.

None of those are surprises, Larry. I could have called those without any of your numbers. I think Jeanne Shaheen's race sounds as if the -- that she may not be able to do it. The races that you really want to look for are Missouri, Georgia, South Dakota. Certainly, the race in South Carolina is going to be a big one for the Senate.

And the key race that you want to watch, Larry, is in Louisiana, because they have a goofy voting system down there. And if Mary Landrieu does not win over 50 percent of the vote, that means she is going to have a runoff. Now, she is probably going to win a runoff. But it will delay, if this tight Senate remains as tight as it is, especially now with the guy in Minnesota is an independent, that has been appointed by Ventura. So that may skew things in terms of organizing the Senate.

L. KING: But, usually, if an incumbent doesn't get 50 percent of the vote, they're in trouble, aren't they?

RICHARDS: No, not really, because you've got four people running down there in Louisiana. And it is one of those goofy systems that the top two then do a runoff. No, it would be very hard, in a four- person race, for Mary to get 50-plus, but she could do it.

L. KING: Is your surprise pick of the night Kirk? Are you picking Kirk to win?

RICHARDS: I'm telling you -- I don't know, because I was coming here to meet you. I don't know the numbers yet. But if we vote as high as 5.2 million or 5.3 million, then I think Ron Kirk is going to be the next United States senator.

L. KING: What about the night are you looking for? Can you give us another surprise you think might happen this evening?

RICHARDS: Well, a big surprise would be if Jean Carnahan could pull it out in Missouri. Everyone has told me that that is a race that really does look troublesome and difficult. I think that that one would be the biggest surprise.

I'm celebrating the Pryor one in Arkansas. And I'm hoping Jimmie Lou Fisher wins the governorship of Arkansas.

L. KING: Are you saying Pryor will definitely win that Senate race?

RICHARDS: I think so. Yes, I think he will.

L. KING: Because they're talking about complications at some of the voting areas.

RICHARDS: Well, you're always going to have some of that, Larry. And the whole question is, is whether our lawyers are as mean as their lawyers. (LAUGHTER)

RICHARDS: And everybody has got their lawyers ready. After what happened in Florida, the Democrats are not about to sit back again and be talked out of an election. And so I think that, in anticipation of that, everybody is on the ready to watch for any infraction and to really get in there and scrap it out, if they see something.

L. KING: Thank you, Governor, as always. Great seeing you.

RICHARDS: Oh, hey, you, too, Larry. Thanks.

L. KING: Governor Ann Richards, former Democratic governor of Texas, with her look at the night, as the night rolls on.

In the next hour, our guest will be Senator John McCain -- you might have heard of him -- Republican of Arizona.

We'll go to break and continue with "America Votes 2002," more of CNN's special coverage of this election night with our crew in Atlanta.

Don't go away.

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