Schumer to Face D'Amato for N.Y. Race
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 1998; Page A2
Voters cast ballots yesterday to pick nominees in key state and congressional contests in nine states from Massachusetts to Washington as Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) surged in the closing days to defeat front-runner Geraldine Ferraro. With nearly 90 percent of the vote counted, Schumer, who will face Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) in November, had 51 percent to Ferraro's 25 percent.
In the Massachusetts gubernatorial primary, Republican incumbent Paul Cellucci and Democratic Attorney General Scott Harshbarger won their respective nominations and will face each other in November.
In Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey III, the son of the former vice president and senator, won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
On the West Coast, the major contest was an intraparty battle in the Washington state GOP in which Rep. Linda A. Smith (R-Wash.), who is backed by the Christian right, defeated moderate Chris Bayley for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, a GOP target this year. With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Smith had 30 percent to Bayley's 15 percent.
The Smith-Bayley struggle was the last of a series of GOP fights pitting its religious wing against its more centrist faction-fights that have often left the party weakened and divided as it prepares for November.
In one of the most bizarre elections of the year, Oklahoma Democrats voting for a U.S. Senate nominee had to choose between Jacquelyn Ledgerwood, who died July 15, and Don E. Carroll, an air-conditioning repairman. More than 37,000 people voted for the dead woman, but Carroll won with more than 115,000, in a contest reflecting the collapse of a once-powerful Democratic Party. Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) is considered certain to win.
The primary contests yesterday are the last of this political season except for elections on Saturday in Hawaii. Strategists for both parties are watching closely to determine whether the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal is depressing Democratic turnout. If the party loyalists who normally cast ballots on primary day fail to go to the polls at normal rates, it will be a signal that the Democrats are likely to have trouble turning out their base in November.
Yesterday's contests were virtually certain to pick the November victor in a number of congressional contests where either the Democratic or Republican Party holds a decisive edge.
One of those was the 10-person battle to replace retiring Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.) in the Cambridge-Boston-Somerville district that has produced such high-profile figures as the late House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill and President John F. Kennedy.
Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn led through most of this year, only to lose to Somerville Mayor Michael Capuano, who pulled ahead only in the final weeks. With 53 percent of the vote counted, Capuano had 28 percent and Flynn 19 percent; Flynn was the only candidate opposed to abortion rights.
In the Hartford-based First District of Connecticut, former State Senate president pro tem John Larson decisively defeated Secretary of State Miles Rapaport in a bitter struggle for the nomination to replace Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly (D), who is running for governor. With 64 percent of the precincts reporting, Larson had a 54 percent to 34 percent lead, with the remainder going to minor candidates.
In North Carolina, redistricting has made incumbent Rep. Melvin Watt (D) vulnerable. Republicans nominated dentist Scott Keadle out of a field of six candidates to run against Watt. Watt, who is black, defeated a conservative challenger in the Democratic primary but faces a tough reelection fight in a district where redistricting reduced African American voters from a 53 percent majority to a 33 percent minority.
The Democratic primary to decide the nomination for the seat Schumer is vacating will determine the November victor. The four-way contest was between two New York City Council members, Anthony Weiner and Noach Dear, and two state Assembly members, Dan Feldman and Melinda Katz.
In a setback to the antiabortion rights movement, Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, was decisively defeated by radio station owner William "Bud" Walker for the GOP nomination for an upstate New York congressional seat. With 72 percent of votes counted, Walker had 54 percent to Terry's 34 percent, with the rest going to attorney Doug Drazen. Walker faces favored incumbent Maurice D. Hinchey (D) in the Ithaca-Binghamton-Hudson Valley district.
The Schumer-Ferraro contest was one of the most significant to be decided yesterday. Ferraro, who ran for vice president in 1984, got into the race late but led in most polling. She had a much higher name identification than either Schumer or the third Democratic candidate, New York City Public Advocate Mark Green. Schumer began the race relatively unknown in much of the state, but he spent an estimated $8 million in his successful bid.
Peter Vallone, speaker of the New York City Council, won the New York Democratic gubernatorial primary. His opponents included Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Vallone faces a daunting battle with incumbent Republican Gov. George E. Pataki, who has high favorability ratings.
A decisive Pataki victory in November would, in the view of a number of Republican operatives, place him on lists of prospective vice presidential candidates in 2000.
In Massachusetts, both Cellucci and Harshbarger successfully beat back primary challenges. State Treasurer Joe Malone conducted a tough attack on Cellucci, portraying himself as the legitimate banner-carrier for Ronald Reagan's brand of conservatism and Cellucci as a big spender. Malone's attacks damaged Cellucci, who no longer holds a strong lead against Harshbarger in general election polls.
Harshbarger's major competitor for the Democratic nomination, former state senator Patricia McGovern (D), minimized negative campaigning.
In Minnesota, Humphrey will face St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. Current polls give Humphrey the edge in the general election, but his name is far better known and he has been on television extensively because of the primary. Coleman, a former Democrat, is considered a strong general election candidate to replace retiring Gov. Arne Carlson (R).
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