Regional Election Summary: The Plains
In the closest race in the four-state region, conservative Republican Vince Snowbarger, 49, lost the House seat he won two years ago to Dennis Moore (D), 52, a former Johnson County district attorney. Moore, who had sharply attacked Snowbarger's stands in favor of privatizing Social Security and allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public, won with 52 percent of the vote.
Moore told reporters afterward he was "elated" by his victory, the first by a Democrat in his district in 40 years and the culmination of the state's most expensive congressional race. "This is not about Dennis Moore or Vince Snowbarger," he said. "This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about doing what's right for our country and the people of this district."
The GOP's Sam Brownback, 42, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 to finish the unexpired term of Sen. Robert J. Dole (R), easily won a full term with 65 percent of the vote. He defeated Democrat Paul Feleciano Jr., 56, a New York-born veteran of the Kansas Senate and one of the few Hispanic politicians in the Plains states.
Gov. Bill Graves (R) won reelection with 73 percent of the vote, and fellow Republican incumbents Jerry Moran, Todd Tiahrt and Jim Ryun all easily retained their House seats. Ryun, 51, the former mile record-holder and three-time Olympian who was first elected to Congress two years ago, beat James Clark (D), a marketing consultant.
In a contest to replace two-term Gov. Ben Nelson (D), Mike Johanns, the 48-year-old Republican mayor of the state capital, Lincoln, cruised to victory over Bill Hoppner (D), a former U.S. Senate aide and unsuccessful aspirant for governor in 1990.
Johanns, who grew up on a dairy farm in Osage, Iowa, and rose through the ranks in Nebraska politics, won the governorship with 54 percent of the vote. After a stint on the Lincoln city council, he was elected mayor in 1991 and ran unopposed for a second term.
The GOP also swept the three House seats. Lee Terry, 36, an Omaha city council member, beat Michael Scott (D), a former local TV anchorman, by a 2-to-1 margin to capture the seat vacated by Rep. Jon Christensen (R). Incumbents Doug Bereuter and Bill Barrett won in their districts.
Democratic incumbents easily won their races for the one Senate and one House seat in play.
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, 56, seeking a second term, overwhelmed Donna Nalewaja, a Republican state senator and unsuccessful 1988 candidate for lieutenant governor who failed to raise much money for her long-shot bid.
In the contest for North Dakota's lone House seat, Earl Pomeroy, 46, a former state insurance commissioner, defeated Republican Kevin Cramer, the state economic development director.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D) handily won reelection, as did two Republican incumbents: Gov. William J. Janklow and Rep. John Thune.
Daschle, 50, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and returned in 1992 with 65 percent of the vote, won 62 percent this time, defeating Ron Schmidt, a Republican National Committee member.
Janklow, 59, who has occupied the governor's mansion for 12 of the last 20 years, turned back a challenge from Democrat Bernie Hunhoff, 47, the minority leader in the state Senate.
Thune was never seriously threatened by Democrat Jeff Moser, the deputy state treasurer, who was able to raise only a fraction of the funds that flowed to the incumbent.
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