Regional Election Summary: The Pacific
Gov. Tony Knowles (D) scored an easy victory over John Lindauer, a Republican publisher who hid the fact that his wealthy wife was financing his campaign until late in the race.
First elected governor in 1994 by a razor-thin margin, Knowles, a wealthy businessman and political moderate, watched his opponent self-destruct -- making misstatements to his own party about the source of $1.7 million in campaign funds.
Lindauer -- a former state legislator, University of Alaska at Anchorage chancellor and owner of rural newspapers and radio stations -- spent more than $850,000 in defeating two opponents in the Republican primary. But he refused to say precisely where his war chest had come from, other than to state that his wealthy attorney wife was not the source.
After Lindauer revealed the source of his campaign funds, the GOP considered abandoning him and supporting state Sen. Robin Taylor as a write-in candidate. But ultimately the party stood by Lindauer.
Still, the GOP fared well in congressional races, as expected. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski rolled over Joseph Sonneman, a liberal activist with almost no money behind his campaign. Incumbent Rep. Don Young (R) easily defeated Democratic challenger Jim Duncan for the state's only House seat.
Lt. Gov. Gray Davis (D) claimed the governor's office for Democrats for the first time in 16 years, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) held onto her seat in the Senate, making the Republicans' nightmare scenario come true in California.
Davis, a veteran state officeholder, staked out centrist positions during the campaign and attacked his opponent, Attorney General Daniel Lungren, on abortion, gay rights, the environment and gun control. Davis, who served as chief of staff to the state's last Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, from 1975 to 1981, had enough money to make his views known and positioned his campaign to capitalize on the belief that his long years of experience would be seen as an asset by voters as long as he did not stumble during the campaign.
Davis's ascendancy to the governor's mansion puts him in political control of the most important state in the 2000 presidential race. California has advanced the date of its primary from June to March 7, hoping to give the state a far more influential role in the nominating process.
The Democrat's win will also enable him to influence the makeup of California's 52-seat House delegation -- and, thus, the composition of the House itself -- from 2002 through 2012, through reapportionment. The state's delegation, 28 Democrats and 24 Republicans in the next Congress, accounts for 12 percent of the House seats and could grow by four seats as a result of the next census. Analysts believe control of as many as 10 seats could be determined by the way new districts are drawn once the state redefines the boundaries of its congressional districts.
Boxer, considered one of the country's most vulnerable incumbents just weeks ago, turned her campaign around by aiming a barrage of negative ads at her opponent, state Treasurer Matt Fong, assailing his conservative stands on abortion, guns and the environment. Fong, who accused Boxer of strident liberalism and tried to position himself as a moderate, cried foul at his opponent's ads. But the Boxer commercials clearly had an impact on voters.
She also capitalized on revelations last week that Fong had once contributed $50,000 in leftover campaign funds to the California-based Traditional Values Coalition, one of the country's leading opponents of gay rights and abortion rights. Boxer has been more closely associated with the Clinton presidency than almost any other member of Congress, in part because of a family tie -- her daughter is married to the brother of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In House races, Republicans picked up one seat statewide. The Sacramento-area seat vacated by Rep. Vic Fazio, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, was won by the Republican candidate, business executive Douglas Ose, who had been favored in part because of the more than $1 million in personal funds he invested in the race. He beat Democratic lawyer Sandie Dunn. In a district in the state's north coast, Democratic state Sen. Mike Thompson defeated Republican Napa County supervisor Mark Luce. Republican incumbent Frank Riggs had left the seat in a losing bid for a Senate nomination.
In a southwest Los Angeles district lined with beaches and defense plants, GOP Assemblyman Steven Kuykendall beat Janice Hahn (D), a city charter reform commissioner whose father was a county supervisor for four decades. The seat came open when incumbent Jane Harman (D), whose campaigns were partially financed by her wealthy business executive husband, unsuccessfully sought her party's gubernatorial nomination.
In Orange County, incumbent Democrat Loretta Sanchez again defeated conservative former representative Robert K. Dornan (R). He had challenged her 1996 victory by claiming widespread voting by illegal immigrants. A House investigation found insufficient evidence to oust her. This time, Dornan softened his rhetoric in an unsuccessful appeal to the burgeoning Latino vote.
First-term Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher bested national security analyst Charles Ball (R) in the East Bay, even though the national Republican party poured considerable sums into his campaign.
In Santa Barbara, incumbent Rep. Lois Capps (D), who won a special election in March to fill out the term of her late husband, won a rematch with Republican Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro.
To the south in the San Fernando Valley, freshman Rep. Brad Sherman (D) easily beat the GOP's Randy Hoffman, a business executive who runs a company specializing in satellite navigation. Veteran Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D) in San Bernardino -- who has served since 1963 with only one two-year interruption -- withstood another Republican challenge by beating wealthy Republican business executive Elia Pirozzi.
Mary Bono (R) -- who won a special election to her Palm Springs seat earlier this year following the death of husband Sonny Bono in a skiing accident -- won her first full term. It wasn't difficult, since Democratic opponent Ralph Waite, who was better known as television's Pa Walton, dropped out of the race.
Democrats emerged victorious despite the state's sagging economy. Sen. Daniel Inouye coasted to victory over Republican challenger Crystal Young, as expected. Hawaii's two Democratic House members, Neil Abercrombie and Patsy Takemoto Mink, easily defeated GOP opponents.
Democratic Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano had the toughest race but beat Linda Crockett Lingle, Maui's Republican mayor. Cayetano went into the campaign's final week trailing Lingle, who performed well in a final debate and was endorsed by a major Honolulu newspaper, but lacked sufficient funding.
To no one's surprise, Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) waltzed to victory over Bill Sizemore, a controversial conservative activist, and Sen. Ronald Wyden (D) had just as easy a time against state Sen. John Lim.
In Oregon's five House seats, incumbent Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Darlene Hooley, all Democrats, won reelection. State Sen. Greg Walden (R) easily claimed the seat being vacated by Agriculture Committee Chairman Robert F. "Bob" Smith, on whose staff Walden once worked. In the suburban Portland district vacated by Rep. Elizabeth Furse (D), Democrat David Wu, an attorney, used the issue of assault weapons to beat Republican opponent Molly Bordonaro, a young political activist.
In the nation's only all-female Senate race, incumbent Sen. Patty Murray (D) defeated Rep. Linda Smith (R) in a hard-fought race in which a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican offered voters clear-cut choices on many issues, including abortion and trade with China.
Smith called for Clinton's resignation during the campaign and said the House should vote to impeach the president if he does not. But in Washington, a bellwether for national political trends in 1992, Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky and his subsequent lies about the relationship never became a potent issue in the race.
Murray, who ran a cautious, incumbent's campaign after her election six years ago as "a mom in tennis shoes," had the White House to thank for a personal triumph when the new budget agreement contained a down payment on hiring and training 100,000 new teachers, a Clinton legislative proposal she had sponsored.
In Washington's House races, Democrats picked up two seats to claim five-to-four control of the state's nine-seat delegation, In one of the country's most closely watched congressional races, former Rep. Jay Inslee (D), one of the few Democrats who tried to turn the Lewinsky scandal against the Republicans, defeated Rep. Rick White (R), a two-term incumbent, in a district that includes parts of Seattle and its suburbs. Inslee ran television commercials during the campaign that attacked White for supporting an inquiry into the possible impeachment of the president.
Meanwhile, Brian Baird (D), a psychology professor, defeated state Sen. Don Benton in the old Vancouver district vacated by Smith for her Senate run against Murray.
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