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    Heads Up for the
    Next Key Races

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to
    Wednesday, November 25, 1998

    Question: Who do you see as the opponents in the 2000 Senate races in New York and Virginia? – Gary Knight, Falls Church, Va.

    Answer: Within seconds of the retirement announcement by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) came the speculation of who will run to succeed the four-term Democrat. Comptroller Carl McCall (D), the only African-American statewide officeholder, is considered the Democratic frontrunner.

    A whole slew of possible Democrats has been mentioned, including Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, Al Sharpton, George Stephanopoulos, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Reps. Nita Lowey, Louise Slaughter and Carolyn Maloney. But, aside from Cuomo, I'm guessing that no one on this list gets in the race to challenge McCall – and Cuomo may not run either.

    On the GOP side, I've thought all along that for all of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's apparent presidential posturing, his real goal was this Senate seat. But the pro-choice and pro-gay rights Giuliani might be hard-pressed to win a primary that could include more doctrinaire Republicans, such as Reps. Rick Lazio and Peter King of Long Island. If Giuliani won, he would have to forfeit City Hall to Democrat Green, who is next in the line of succession. Sen. Al D'Amato, who lost his reelection bid this year, has been mentioned as a possible candidate in 2000, but don't bet on it.

    For the record, Charles Schumer's defeat of D'Amato means that New York will have two Democratic senators for the first time since 1946.

    In Virginia, Sen. Chuck Robb (D) is widely expected to run for a third term. Rep. Tom Davis (R) had been looking at the race, but his election as Republican Congressional Committee chairman is thought to have taken him out of the running. The speculation now focuses on former governor George Allen (R), who was once thought to be plotting a return to the governorship in 2001.

    Question: Is there a list of all the races in the off-year 1999 cycle? Will we see a '99 contest for Newt's seat? – Paul Mitchell, Los Angeles, Calif.

    Answer: Answering the second part first, the Georgia seat that is being vacated by Speaker Newt Gingrich looks like it will stay in Republican hands. The seat will likely go to Johnny Isakson, the chairman of the state school board, who narrowly lost the 1990 gubernatorial race and also sought the 1996 GOP Senate nomination. He is pro-choice and has few friends among the district's religious conservatives. But he has the Speaker's blessing, which still counts for something here.

    Should the right wing of the party come up with a viable candidate of its own, Isakson's cake walk to Congress could be placed in jeopardy. As for the Democrats, Gary "Bats" Pelphrey, who got creamed by Gingrich on November 3, may want to run again. In addition, cookie company millionaire Michael Coles (D), who lost in his bids for the Senate (to Paul Coverdell in 1998) and House (to Gingrich in 1996), is being urged to try once more. The election is expected to be non-partisan in nature (everyone will run on the same ballot) and should take place no sooner than the end of January.

    As for the rest of 1999, the big races are the three gubernatorial contests. In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Paul Patton will seek reelection. Mississippi's Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice is term-limited. In Louisiana, GOP Gov. Mike Foster is running again.

    Among the cities holding mayoral elections are Chicago (incumbent: Richard Daley), San Francisco (Willie Brown), Philadelphia (Ed Rendell is term-limited), Memphis (Willie Herenton) and Indianapolis (Stephen Goldsmith is retiring).

    Question: What happened to the Democrats in my old stomping grounds in New Hampshire? The last two Senate races were squeakers, yet the Dems failed to recruit a presentable, much less serious, candidate to take on Judd Gregg this year. Is it the failure to build a farm team of local officials? Or is N.H. not trending as heavily Democratic as it had once appeared? – Peter Sullivan, Fayetteville, Ark.

    Answer: The Democrats are doing much better in this once-overwhelmingly Republican state than most people realize. Yes, GOP Sen. Gregg did win nearly 68 percent of the vote in his reelection bid against George Condodemetraky, after barely winning six years ago. But Governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) won a second term by nearly the same margin, the first Democratic governor of New Hampshire to win reelection in 18 years, and the biggest win by a Democratic governor here since the LBJ landslide year of 1964.

    In addition, the Democrats took control of the state Senate for the first time since 1912. When you add this to the fact that Bill Clinton twice carried New Hampshire, I'd say the rumors of the party's death in the state are greatly exaggerated.

    Question: How can you say that David Wu, who won the open Oregon 01 seat, would be the "first Chinese-American" elected to the House? (See the Nov. 2 column.) You're forgetting Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii. – Jonathan S. Mark, Alexandria, Va.

    Answer: I meant to say he would be the first member of Congress to be born in China; Wu was born in the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1955. But he is the third Chinese-American to serve in Congress, following not only Mink but former Sen. Hiram Fong (R-Hawaii) as well.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin:

    Ken Rudin is the political editor at NPR and a former editor of the Hotline. He is also the creator of's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1998 Ken Rudin

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