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Couple Have Few Differences, But Face Off for Same Legislative Seat

March 4, 1996

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ In their 43 years of marriage, Al and Janette Hanson always have worked together _ in their family, at their church and in their community.

Now they’re even working together while they run against each other for the same seat in the state Legislature.

Their opposing campaign headquarters share the same address _ in their home, in Concordia. They rode together when they came to the state capital to file as candidates.

``I would imagine that we would probably go and campaign together,″ Hanson said. ``I’ll walk down one side of the street, she’ll walk down the other.″

He’s a Democrat, she’s a Republican. They’re seeking the nomination for the House seat held by Republican Dave Oetting, who is running for the state Senate. So far, the Hansons each have one challenger in the August primaries.

They’re a little vague on why they’re running against each other.

They just say that she tends more to the GOP slant on things and he is a Democrat.

``The people need a choice,″ said Mrs. Hanson, 63.

``We’ll let the voters decide,″ said her 65-year old husband, a tire store owner.

Their big issues are family values and crime, and they have no specific differences.

``I’m really concerned about the continued decline of the basic family structure, rising crime and declining family values,″ said Mrs. Hanson.

Added her husband: ``Some way or the other, we’re going to have to return to the values we had when we were kids _ that Mom and Dad work together.″

That leads to some confusion.

``I really don’t understand what they are doing,″ said Oetting, who defeated Hanson in 1994 to retain his legislative seat. ``I think it’s important when you run a campaign to have your family behind you. But how can you do that when you’re running against each other?″

Concordia, a conservative German community of 2,100, is known mostly for St. Paul’s Lutheran High School, a boarding school that attracts students from across the country.

``We are really staid and predictable. Our lives are very cut-and-dried, and we do the same thing every day,″ said Linda Laubenstein, the Hansons’ next-door neighbor and good friend.

Thanks to their campaign, added her husband, Larry, ``I think things will be kind of interesting.″

Mrs. Hanson, a part-time security guard at St. Paul’s, helped her husband campaign against Oetting two years ago. When he lost, Hanson promised supporters that he would run again.

Hanson said he could not go back on his word, even when his wife decided to run, too.

``I said, `Go ahead if you want to,‴ Hanson said. ``She is her own person and I have encouraged her _ and all four of our daughters _ to step out and do what they want.″

Their oldest daughter, Shari Weber, is a Republican state representative in neighboring Kansas. Asked which parent she supports, Ms. Weber declined to answer directly.

``Our family probably leans more Republican,″ she said.

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