Seldom was heard a discourageing word for Republicans in the western states yesterday.
Californian Ronald Reagan seemed likely to sweep all 102 electoral votes in the West's 13 states. The GOP apparently unseated two Democratic kingpins of the Senate and two House committee chairmen. The Republicans also gained one new governorship in the region.
With more than half the votes counted in Idaho, Republican Rep. Steve Symms apparently was unseating Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Frank Church in a hard-fought Senate race. Across the border in Washington, the GOP's Slade Gorton seemed to be doing the same to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Warren Magnuson, the dean of Senate Democrats.
In Colorado, Democrat Gary Hart held a small lead in his race for a second term with 60 percent of the vote in. The only chance for a Democratic Senate gain in the region was in Arizona, where Republican Barry Goldwater was slightly behind his Democratic challenger with a quarter of the votes tabulated.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Al Ullman was trailing slightly with half the vote counted in his Oregon district, and early returns from northern California showed Public Works Committee chairman Harold T. (Bizz) Johnson getting clobbered.
Republican John Spellman scored a clear win for the governorship in Washington, winning a statehouse previously held by the Democrats. Alaska
The presidential race was never deemed much of a contest in Alaska, because Reagan has broad appeal and Carter has been unpopular throughout his term. Some polls, in fact, suggested that Liberatian Party candidate Ed Clark might beat out Carter for second place in the Libertarian Party's stongest state.
But it was not so clear whether Reagan's expected romp would help the Republicans pick up the Senate seat now held by Democrat Mike Gravel. The Democratic candidate, Clark Gruening (pronounced "Greening"), who defeated Gravel in the primary, would normally be favored. A grandson of former senator Earnest Gruening and a prominent member of the state legislature, Gruening started the race with much greater name recognition than his Republican opponent, Frank H. Murkowski.
Murkowski, a Fairbanks banker, worked hard to link himself to Reagan and Gruening to the Carter adminstration. As a result, the race looked extremely close in final polls. Rep. Don Young, a Republican running for a fourth term in the state's at-large House seat, seemed a safe bet for reelection. Arizona
In one of the few races in the region where an incumbent Republican had a tough night, conservative patriarch Barry Coldwater was slightly behind his hard-charging Democratic challenger with a quarter of the vote counted. Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Morris Udall seemed to be sweeping toward a much easier victory than anybody expected in his race for a 10th term. t
Goldwater, long a hero of the national Republican Party's right wing, took a long time last year deciding whether to run for a fifth Senate term or retire. He chose to run -- and ran into a tough fight from Bill Schulz, a 49-year-old developer from Scottsdale who spent $1.3 million of his own money and waged a vigorous campaign that the 71-year-old incumbent could not match. With 23 percent of the vote counted, Schulz had a 51-to-49 percent lead, but neither side would predict the outcome.
Udall, chairman of the House Interior Committee, found himself in an equally tough campaign against another millionaire developer, Republican Richard Huff. Udall's reputation as one of the Democratic Party's leading liberals made him a top Republican target in a district that has grown more and more conservative because of Sun Belt migration. But with 23 percent counted, Udall was leading by a 3-to-2 ratio.
House Minority Leader John Rhodes, Democrat Bob Stump, and Republican Eldon Rudd seemed to be safe bets for reelection.
In presidential balloting, Reagan swamped Carter by almost 2-to-1. Anderson was running third with nearly 10 percent of the vote, and Libertarian Ed Clark had about three percent. California
Ronald Reagan has been on the ballot seven times in his home state, and he he won it for the seventh straight time yesterday. From the earliest returns, he was leading Jimmy Carter by a 3-to-2 ratio, with John Anderson pulling about eight percent of the vote. The Carter camp had essentially conceded the state's 45 electoral votes to the Republicans Monday by canceling the president's last planned trip to the state.
The Democrats seemed sure to have one statewide winner, though, in the person of Senate Majority Whip Alan Cranston. Cranston was leading Republican Paul Gann by a margin of 52 percent to 41 with 8 percent of the vote counted. NBC News projected Cranston a winner.
But House Public Works Committee chairman Harold T. (Bizz) Johnson was getting clobbered in his Northern California district by state Assemblyman Gene Chappie. Republican Chappie had a lead of better than 2 to 1 with 15 percent of the vote in. Another prominent House Democrat, James c. Corman, was trailing Republican Bobbie Fiedler, an outspoken opponent of school busing, in early returns. Other House incumbents, including Democrat John Burton and Republican Robert Dorman, all were leading in early returns.
For the second time, a strong advertising campaign by restaurateurs and tobacco companies seemed to have defeated a referendum that would have set tough legal limits on where Californians could smoke cigarettes. Colorado
Sen. Gary Hart, a Democrat, was holding his own against the conservative tide sweeping across the West, taking a slight lead in the early morning hours. But with 60 percent of the votes tallied, his race with Republican Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan was still considered too close to call.
Reagan, by contrast, jumped off to an early 2-to-1 lead in Colorado that appeared solid enough to hold through the final tally.
Like Hart, Rep. Timoth E. Wirth (D) was holding his own against the conservative surge, even though it was billed as particularly heavy in his Second Congressional District. Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D), considered a liberal among conservatives on the House Armed Services Committee, also appeared certain of reelection on the basis of 60 percent of the vote. Rep. Raymond P. Kogovsek (D) piled up what seemed like an insurmountable lead over State Sen. Harold McCormick (R) in their rematch and former state senator Hank Brown (R) looked like a safe bet to win the seat vacated by retiring Rep. James P. Johnson (R). Hawaii
Reagan overcame what the polls said was a 14 percent lead for President Carter in the closing weeks of the campaign and seemed on the verge of victory in the islands despite an intense effort by the state's all Democratic congressional delegation.
Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye seemed assured of keeping his seat against the challenge of Republican Cooper Brown, a Honolulu attorney and environmentalist.
In the House races, Democrats Cecil Heftel and Daniel Akaka were heavily favored over their challengers, Republican newcomer Aloma Keen Noble and Libertarian candidate D. Gordon Smith. Idaho
Sen. Frank Church succumbed to a Reagan landslide, a two-year assault by the "New-Right" and a vigorous campaign by conservative Republican Rep. Steve Symms as he apparently lost his bid for a fifth Senate term from Idaho.
Symms, a four-term Republican congressman who told Idahoans that Church was too liberal for their conservative western thinking, scored heavily by attacking the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his support of the Panama Canal treaties and his on-again-off-again backing for SALT II.
Church, a liberal in a mostly conservative state, had artfully danced through the right-wing tides of Idaho almost since he was elected to the Senate in 1956. He ran into conservative barrages for his early opposition to the Vietnam war, but last year he attempted to tack with the winds -- most notably and controversially by tying his support of SALT to removal of the Russian brigade from Cuba.
Church was targeted by various national conservative groups, including the National Conservative Political Action Committee and its local variant, the Anyone But Church Committee. Observers, however, said the intensely negative campaigns against Church began to backfire last summer and Symms asked the national groups to leave the state.
The Church-Symms race became a symbolic national battle, with more than $3 million poured into the Senate race -- far and away the most money ever spent on election in the tiny, isolated state.
Reagan, as expected, overwhelmed President Carter, taking a 2-to-1 lead over the Democrat in early returns.
Republicans held the state's two congressional seats, with incumbent George Hansen winning easily and State Sen. Larry Craig apparently taking the seat vacated by Symms when he took on Church. Montana
Voters split their ballots in environmentally minded Montana as they went for Republican Reagan by a wide margin in early returns but favored Democrat Ted Schwinden for governor.
At the same time, Montanans apparently voted down a proposition to restrict the dumping of radioactive waste from ore processing within their state.
By almost 2 to 1, the voters in early returns called for changing state tax laws to prohibit increases for the purpose of keeping pace with inflation.
In the House races, incumbents Pat Williams (D) and Ron Marlenee (R) jumped off to early leads that were expected to hold through the night. Nevada
Ronald Reagan's campaign manager, Sen. Paul Laxalt, apparently joined him in a big reelection victiry, returns from about one-quarter of the state's precincts indicated.
Lexalt, who won his first term in 1974 by only 624 votes, apparently was defeating Democrat Mary Gojack by a ration of at least 3 to 2 after building a campaign treasury of nearly $1 million, more than six times her $150,000.
In the only other statewide race, Democratic Rep. Jim Santini appeared to be coasting to a fourth term, defeating the GOP's Vance Sanders. New Mexico
With more than three-fifths of the vote reported in an unusual race for one of the state's two House seats, Democrat David King, state finance secretary, was leading popular challengers Dorothy Runnels, an independent, Joseph R. Skeen, a Republican, by wide margins despite separate write-in drives in their behalf.
The race, which aroused particular interest and a heavy voter turnout despite the absence of senatorial and gobernatorial contests this year, was for the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Harold Runnels, a Domocrat, last Aug. 5.
Skeen said that if he lost, he would challenge King's election in the courts, charging technical violations of the election laws.
Only King appeared on the ballot, as the result of a ruling by Democratic Gov. Bruce King, his uncle. The ruling incited widespread resentment and support -- perhaps exceeding that for candidate King -- for the congressman's widow and for Skeen, a sheep rancher. But the translation of that support into votes was impeded by the difficulty of write-in votes on voting machines, which are universal in New Mexico.
Republican Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr. appeared on his way to apparent reelection to a seventh term, leading Democrat Bill Richardson by an apparently safe but closer-than-expected margin. Oregon
Rep. Al Ullman, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was locked in a tight battle with an Eastern Oregon businessman, Denny Smith, in a race that was too close to call as rural returns were slowly tabulated.
Ullman trailed narrowly with nearly half the votes counted, but CBS projected the powerful committee chairman would lose.
Another Democratic congressman, Rep. Jim Weaver, also was under a major assault by Republicans hoping to cut into the state's solidly Democratic House delegation. Oregon had a near-record 63,000 absentee ballots outstanding. Under Oregon law, absentees are not counted until they are double-checked against precinct records, which could leave close races in doubt until the end of the week.
Republican Sen. Bob Packwood, once a target on a national right-wing hit list, apparently was coasting to an easy victory in a race that right-to-lifers once hoped to make a national symbol on the abortion issue. Packwood has supported abortion laws, but much of the vitriol went out of the race months ago when it became clear Packwood was almost untouchable in Oregon.
Ronald Reagan appeared to be making his western and national sweep almost total with an early lead in this state which all three presidential candidates visited in the waning days of the campaign. Carter visited here on election eve in a attempt to crack Reagan's solid hold on the West.
Ullman was marked for national Republican targeting as a committee chairman whom the GOP charged had lost touch with his Far Western district, noting that the congressman no longer even owned a home in the district, which stretches from some suburban Portland and Salem areas eastward into the underpopulated cowboy country of Eastern Oregon.
The Republicans also took heart -- and heightened their attack on both Ullman and Weaver -- when Rep. Bob Duncan, often considered Oregon's most popular politician, was unceremoniously dumped in last May's primary. Utah
First-term Republican Sen. E.J. (Jake) Garn took a commanding 3-to-1 lead over Salt Lake City corporate attorney Dan Berman and was declared the winner by ABC, NBC, the Associated Press and United Press International.
In a heavy voter turnout, Republican Rep. Dan Marriott, seeking a third term, was far ahead of Democrat Art Monson, treasurer of Salt Lake County.
The other House incumbent, Democrat Gunn McKay, who had been expected to score an easy win over Republican James Hansen in the mainly rural Second District, was in a close race, also according to the initial returns.
Gov. Scott M. Matheson, a Democrat serving his first two-year term, held a safe margin over GOP challenger Bob Wright with 17 percent of the precincts counted. Washington
Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, who went to Congress at the height of the Great Depression and rose to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, lost his struggle to hold the Senate seat he has occupied since 1944.
Despite a desparate election-eve visit to Seattle by President Carter, Ronald Reagan appeared to be carrying Washington -- a swing state that has gone Democratic more often than any other Western state in the past dozen years.
Magnuson, the Senate's most senior member whose victory this year would have given him a half-century in Congress, trailed Republican State Attorney General Slade Gorton by eight percentage points with about a third of the vote counted.
A Magnuson aide, watching the approach of Democratic Senate disasters move westward across the time zones, said the loss by the Senate's senior member: "There was nothing personal about it. It was like dying in a plane crash. Everybody was killed."
Age was the basic issue against the 75-year-old Magnuson. He fought back with a half-humorous campaign that, while he now walked slower, he had so much power in Washington, D.C., "the meeting can't get started until I get there anyway."
In other races, King County Executive John Spellman, a Republican, apparently defeated Democratic State Sen. Jim McDermott in the race for governor.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Dixy Lee Ray was defeated by McDermott in a primary. It was Spellman's second shot at the governorship.
Rep. Mike McCormack, a pro-nuclear power Democrat who represents a Southern Washington district and home of the Hanford Works, which produced plutonium for the first atomic bomb, apparently was defeated by Republican State Sen. Sid Morrison.
In Eastern Washington Rep. Thomas S. Foley, the moderately liberal chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, was clinging to a narrow lead in his always precarious conservative district. Wyoming
The predicted overwhelming victory of Ronald Reagan apparently was accompanied by the easy reelection of the state's only congressman, Republican Richard (Dick) Cheny, according to returns from three-forths of the state's precincts.
Cheny, who became congressman-at-large after service as chief of staff to President Ford, had a 7-to-4 lead over Democrat Jim Rogers, who by late last month was down to the last $1,000 in his campaign treasury and was foundering on issues.
Electoral excitement was limited, there being neither a senatorial nor a gubernatorial race.