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Arkansas’ Clinton Tries to Avoid Runoff; Mazzoli Rejects Help of PACs

May 29, 1990

Undated (AP) _ Gov. Bill Clinton hoped to avoid a runoff in today’s Democratic primary in Arkansas, and U.S. Rep. Romano Mazzoli of Kentucky sought an 11th term in a bid handicapped by his refusal to accept money from political action committees.

Also in Arkansas, blacks were guaranteed greater representation in the Legislature because 31 districts were redrawn. Seats in five of 10 newly created black-majority districts are being sought by only black candidates.

Clinton must get more than 50 percent of the vote to win the nomination outright for another term. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will meet in a runoff.

A poll released Friday gave Clinton 55 percent to 22 percent for Tom McRae, former president of a charitable foundation, with 19 percent undecided. Three other contenders had 3 percent or less.

Clinton, 43, was the nation’s youngest governor when he was first elected in 1978. He was defeated in 1980 but was elected again in 1982, 1984 and 1986, the first year the governorship was made a four-year term.

The Republican gubernatorial race pits U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson, a former police chief and sheriff, against Sheffield Nelson, a former utility executive.

Robinson and Nelson may pick up some traditional Democratic voters because they switched parties last year. Arkansas voters may participate in either primary without making a commitment for the November general election.

In Kentucky, the closest contest for Congress may be the Democratic primary in Mazzoli’s Louisville district. Former TV newsman Jeffrey Hutter, who got 39 percent of the vote against Mazzoli two years ago, is trying again. The other candidate is Louisville Alderman Paul Bather.

Mazzoli’s opponents have questioned whether he has done enough for Louisville since he was first elected in 1970. Hutter has criticized Mazzoli for voting to repeal the Catastrophic Health Care Act, raise the salaries of members of Congress and severely restrict abortions.

But Mazzoli’s decision not to accept PACs may be his downfall. As of May 18, Mazzoli said he had raised $133,370 from individual contributors. Hutter had raised $172,550 by May 9, including $40,000 from PACs.

Mazzoli, 57, decided in December to set an example by becoming one of only about two dozen members of Congress who reject PAC contributions. PACs had contributed to about half of his past campaigns.

″I’ve always felt politics belongs to the people, not to the large special interest groups,″ Mazzoli said. ″Instead of leveling the playing field, PACs have become a force to keep incumbents in office.″

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