Political newcomer Robert Kerrey yesterday defeated Nebraska state Sen. George (Bill) Burrows in a primary election to win a chance to unseat Republican Gov. Charles Thone.

Bad weather, including snow in some parts of the state, and a large number of uncontested races helped keep most voters from the polls.

Retired Air Force Gen. James Keck won the GOP Senate primary and will face Democratic Sen. Edward Zorinsky, a former Omaha mayor who jumped parties to win his first Senate race six years ago.

Zorinsky and the state's all-GOP, three-member House delegation of Hal Daub, Douglas K. Bereuter and Virginia Smith were unopposed.

Thone defeated farmer Stan DeBoer, leader of the state's American Agriculture Movement, and Barton Chandler, an unemployed Lincoln resident who ran as a pauper.

Thone, a former congressman seeking his second and final gubernatorial term, will be teamed with incumbent Lt. Gov. Roland Luedtke, who defeated state Sen. Howard Lamb and Ken Smith, a farmer and county board member.

Kerrey's running mate will be Don McGinley, a former congressman, who beat Edward Conrad, a Burlington Northern Railroad clerk.

In Lincoln, with about one-third of the votes counted, a gay rights law appeared headed for defeat, with 78 percent voting against it.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, four-term Union City Mayor William V. Musto, facing a prison term for racketeering, won reelection, while three-term Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson, indicted on misconduct charges, was forced into a runoff.

Final unofficial returns showed that Musto, 65, and his five-man slate received 27,487 votes, compared with 22,968 for the next closest slate. Musso, also a state senator, was sentenced Monday to seven years in jail for racketeering, extortion and conspiracy.

In Newark, official returns showed that with all but four districts reporting Gibson led City Council President Earl Harris, 46 to 32 percent. A runoff is scheduled June 15.

Gibson and Harris were indicted by an Essex County grand jury for misconduct in office: hiring a retired councilman for a "no-show" city job.

In Atlantic City, Assemblyman Michael Matthews, the city revenue and finance commissioner, finished 102 votes ahead of James Usry, a school administrator. A runoff is scheduled for June 15.

In Lancaster, Wis., Grant County Circuit Court Judge William L. Reinecke, who called a 5-year-old victim of a sexual assault an "unusually sexually promiscuous young lady," staved off an attempt to remove him from the bench yesterday.

Reinecke, 52, a law-and-order judge in trouble with some of his conservative constituents, won 50.8 percent of the vote to defeat two opponents in a recall election and avoid a runoff.