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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Buchanan Hires Louisiana Adviser

December 29, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan, battling Texas Sen. Phil Gramm for Louisiana’s 21 delegates to the GOP National Convention, has hired some local talent to help with campaign advertising.

Roy Fletcher, a media strategist who helped Republican Mike Foster win the Louisiana governor’s chair last month, has signed on as senior adviser in Louisiana to the Buchanan campaign.

Fletcher, of Baton Rouge, at one time had been a media strategist for Foster’s Democratic rival, Rep. Cleo Fields.

Buchanan and Gramm are the main contenders in Louisiana’s Feb. 6 caucuses, the first in the nation. Most other candidates signed a pledge to stay out of Louisiana so that Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary can be first.

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Both Gramm and his campaign suffered a loss this week with the death of his national finance chairman, Alec Courtelis.

Courtelis, one of the nation’s top GOP money raisers, died of pneumonia Thursday in Miami after making a valiant comeback from pancreatic cancer. He was 68.

``As only a man with Alec’s great will and strength could have, he fought off a grave illness for longer than anyone dreamed possible and greatly enriched our lives in the process,″ said Gramm. ``Alec Courtelis was living proof that the American dream is alive and well.″

Former President Bush also saluted Courtelis, a close friend known for his gentle but persistent style in politics.

``Who says there are no heroes any more? Just look at the life and legacy of Alec Courtelis,″ Bush said.

Courtelis was a member of Florida’s state Board of Regents and a successful immigrant businessman originally from Greece.

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Texas billionaire Ross Perot’s new independent party has taken the first step toward getting on the Nov. 5 ballot in Michigan.

On a 3-0 vote, the Board of State Canvassers approved the draft of a petition to be circulated by the Michigan Reform Party to secure a spot on the general election ballot.

Now it will be up to party members and volunteers to collect 30,891 valid signatures by July 18. The ballot slot can be used to field a slate of candidates from president to school board member.

The board doesn’t have to give its approval before a group can begin collecting signatures, but most groups ask to have their petitions approved so backers know the petition is not technically defective.

``We want to be certain everything is done correctly and in compliance with the regulations,″ said Eleanor Renfrew, a coordinator for United We Stand America, Perot’s political organization.

``United We Stand America is still a viable organization,″ Renfrew said. ``The concept of a third party has been talked about since the beginning.″

The party plans a national convention linked via satellite to sites across the country, officials have said.

Perot, an independent presidential candidate in 1992, has said he is not interested in being the party’s presidential nominee, but has not ruled himself out.

``He may, he may not,″ Renfrew said Thursday.

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