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C-SPAN video of the Oct. 12 debate and the Aug. 26 debate (RealVideo required)

California Senate

Filing Deadline: March 6
Primary: June 2
Primary Results

Nov. 4, 1998 — Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) successfully defended her seat in tough a race against State Treasurer Matt Fong (R). With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Boxer won 53 percent and Fong won 43 percent.

Boxer was the GOP's most-targeted candidate, much like Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) was for Democrats. She struggled against sliding poll numbers and was blasted by critics who noted her relative silence on President Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Issues: Abortion was a major issue, both in debates and in advertising. Fong disputed Boxer's claims that he opposed all abortions and said she favored late-term abortions on demand.

Campaign contributions also were an issue. Fong had to defend himself against criticism for taking money from an anti-gay conservative Christian group. Boxer said Fong should return the check. President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton both helped Boxer pad her war chest, and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole stumped for Fong.

Polls: A Los Angeles Times poll conducted Oct. 17-21 showed Boxer with 49 percent, Fong with 44 percent and 7 percent undecided, with a 4 percent margin of error. A Field Poll conducted a few days later showed Boxer widening her lead, with 54 percent to 42 percent. But a survey conducted Oct. 26-28 by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research showed a different picture: a statistical dead heat, with Boxer at 45 percent and Fong at 43 percent, inside the 3.5 percent margin of error.

Advertising: Fong went on the air in late September with ads in Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Spanish, and throughout the fall continued to slam Boxer on abortion. Boxer fired back with her own abortion spots and another accusing Fong of supporting a low-level nuclear waste dump in the desert of Southern California.

Fund-Raising: Boxer raised more than $11.8 million for this race, spent nearly $11.3 million and had 582,000 on hand in mid-October. Fong raised $8.8 million, spent $7.9 million and had nearly $922,000 on hand.

— Lisa Todorovich,

Lisa Todorovich can be reached at

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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