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Arkansas Senate

Filing Deadline: March 31
Primary: May 19
Runoff: June 9

Nov. 4, 1998 — Former Rep. Blanche Lambert Lincoln kept the seat of retiring Sen. Dale Bumpers in Democratic hands, defeating Republican state Sen. Fay Boozman. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Lincoln won 56 percent to Boozman's 42 percent.

This race was crucial to Arkansas Democrats after Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson's 1996 victory and the Whitewater-related scandals that prompted Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) to succeed former governor Jim Guy Tucker (D). The party devoted hefty resources to this contest.

Issues: Critics alternately called Lincoln out of touch with national issues and Boozman an extremist. In response, Lincoln emphasized her congressional experience and Boozman called himself a moderate, saying that as a physician and a father, he identified with voters.

Boozman stirred up controversy in mid-October, when he said women rarely become pregnant as the result of rape. Boozman, an ophthalmologist who serves on the medical advisory board for a crisis pregnancy center, said "God's little protective shield" gave women natural defensive hormones, which develop under fearful circumstances. Lincoln called his statements inexcusable and extreme. Boozman apologized for causing offense a few days later, but did not retract the remark.

Abortion and the Clinton scandal headlined a late-September debate. Boozman opposes abortion; Lincoln said government should not interfere, though she favored banning so-called "partial-birth" abortions. She said Congress must get all the facts about the Clinton scandal; he declared Clinton should resign. Both said they supported voluntary prayer in public schools and opposed affirmative action.

Polls: Lincoln's lead grew by several points in the final days of the campaign. A poll conducted Oct. 23-25 by Mason Dixon Political/Media Research showed Lincoln with 56 percent and Boozman with 36 percent. A Mason-Dixon survey in early October showed Lincoln leading Boozman, 52 percent to 39 percent.

Fund-Raising: According to Federal Election Commission filings, Lincoln reported nearly twice as much cash on hand than Boozman through October 15, thanks in part to a July state party fund-raiser with President Clinton. Lincoln had nearly $380,000 in the bank, while Boozman had nearly $164,000. Lincoln raised about $840,000 and spent about $725,000 in 1998; Boozman took in and spent about $403,000. PACs gave about $346,000 to Lincoln and about $51,000 to Boozman.

Advertising: Boozman's fall round of ads accused Lincoln of voting one way on social security and veterans' issues and promoting a different platform. Boozman first went on TV with campaign spots in late August. Lincoln's ads since the primary did not mention her opponent, focusing instead on education and the budget surplus. Her ads, showing her speaking from a classroom and buying groceries, courted middle-class voters.

— Susan Heavey, washingtonpost.com

Susan Heavey can be reached at heaveys@washpost.com

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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