Former prosecutor Andy Coats, a Democrat, and Don Nickles, a young Republican state senator, easily won their party nominations in an Oklahoma primary runoff and will meet in the Nov. 4 general election to pick a successor to retiring U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon.
Two independents and a Libertarian also will be on the ballot, which will feature as well a battle between Democrat Dave McCurdy, a 30-year-old attorney from Norman, and Republican Howard Rutledge, former prisoner of war in Vietnam, for the 4th District congressional seat being vacated by veteran Democratic Rep. Tom Steed.
The final unofficial vote total for the runoff primary election Tuesday showed Coats, 45, a former Oklahoma County district attorney, with a comfortable 209,372-to-185,690 edge over Robert S. Kerr Jr., 53, son of a former governor and senator. Coats received 53 percent of the vote to Kerr's 47 percent.
The Republican runoff was even more one-sided, with Nickles, 31, a freshman state senator from Ponca City, getting 81,645 votes, for 65 percent, to 43,018, or 35 percent, for Tulso Businessman John Zink.
In Massachusetts, Liberal Democrats in two congressional districts survived strong challenges from conservatives backed by the Roman Catholic Church.
State. Rep. Barney Frank defeated Waltham Mayor Arthur Clark 52 percent to 46 percent in the 4th District for the seat being vacated by Jesuit priest Robert Drinan. Drinan, a Democrat, was forced to retire on orders from the pope.
Last week, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros of Boston distributed a letter to be read from the pulpits of 410 Catholic churches, calling abortion an "unspeakable crime," and warning Catholics who vote for candidates favoring abortion rights that they must share the "deadly sin"
It was direct both at Frank and at freshman Rep. James Shannon in the neighboring 5th District, also an advocate of abortion rights. Shannon defeated Robert M. Hatem, business executive and onetime political worker for John and Robert Kennedy, by 53 percent to 46 percent.
"To many of the voters, there were other issues more important or as important as abortion," Frank said.
"It shows that single-issue candidacies won't work in Massachusetts," said Shannon.