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Impeached Arizona Governor Seeks Comeback as 10 States Hold Primaries

September 11, 1990

Undated (AP) _ Ousted Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham bid for an upset that would stun his critics and reclaim the Republican nomination for his old job today, as 10 states held primaries that drew generally light early voter turnout.

An 11th primary was being held in the District of Columbia, where Jesse Jackson figured to win his first nomination ever - though it was for the symbolic post of ″shadow senator.″

Election officials expected turnout to be poor, in some cases abysmal - and their predictions were borne out in early morning voting despite sunny and pleasant weather in East Coast primary states.

″It’s ho-hum. There’s voter apathy out there,″ said Gene Raynor, head of Maryland’s state election board. He predicted a turnout of 35 percent - a drop of almost 10 percentage points from non-presidential primary elections in 1986 and 1982.

″It’s light, like the delicate cycle,″ joked Nashua, N.H., city clerk Eleanor Benson after returning from a visit to city polling places.

Despite a deluge of late television ads, most of the primaries have been overshadowed by the conflict in the Middle East.

″The Mideast conflict is overshadowing everything,″ said Robert Frankel, the Democratic House leader in Connecticut, a state with a hotly contested race for governor.

″The feeling I get from knocking on doors and talking to people is that there is a very low perception that there even is a primary,″ he said.

Officials predicted that fewer than 40 percent of Arizona’s Republican voters would cast ballots. Official turnout predictions were lower elsewhere - as low as 15 percent in Wisconsin, with no tight statewide races.

Primaries were being held in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Arizona, Connecticut, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

This last big round of primaries nearly completes the general election lineup. Only Massachusetts, Washington, Oklahoma, Florida, Hawaii and Louisiana still must choose nominees.

Analysts said a low turnout would likely help Mecham, who retains a loyal following despite being impeached in 1988 after a tumultuous half-term as governor.

″There’s a deep-seated dissatisfaction with government at all levels in Arizona,″ said Rob Robb, a Republican lobbyist and political consultant, explaining Mecham’s continuing appeal.

Developer Fife Symington was the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. But analysts said he and three other GOP contenders could split up the anti-Mecham vote and open the door to the former governor.

Former Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard was heavily favored in the Democratic primary.

The major race in Connecticut is for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Rep. Bruce Morrison was giving up his House seat and campaigning as ″the guy who doesn’t want to raise taxes,″ while his opponent, state legislator William J. Cibes Jr., called for an increase and overhaul of the state’s tax system.

The winner will be thrust into a three-way race with Republican Rep. John Rowland and the front-runner, Lowell Weicker, the former Republican senator running as an independent.

In another key race, Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich hoped experience and an eccentric reputation would carry him to renomination after 10 years in the job.

Perpich faced a tough challenge from former state Commerce Commissioner Mike Hatch, although late polls showed Perpich had opened a wide lead.

The race for the Republican nomination attracted attention, too. State auditor Arne Carlson had a wide lead in the latest poll over Jon Grunseth, the candidate endorsed by the state party. GOP leaders have attacked Carlson as out of step with their opposition to abortion and gun control.

Residents of the nation’s capital were also picking a Democratic nominee for mayor to succeed the embattled Marion Barry, who last month was convicted on one misdemeanor drug charge, acquitted on another and left with a hung jury on 12 others. Barry, elected mayor as a Democrat, is seeking a city council seat as an independent.

Jackson, in his first race for an office other than president, faced three other Democrats to become one of two shadow senators, whose job would be to lobby Congress to make the city the 51st state. Jackson moved from Chicago to Washington last year.

The race for Washington, D.C.’s non-voting delegate to Congress exploded in the final days when the front-runner in the Democratic primary acknowledged that she and her husband had failed to file city tax returns over an eight- year period.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, a former Carter administration official, blamed her husband Edward for failing to mail the forms. The Washington Post editorialized that the failure was ″not just disabling, it is disqualifying,″ and endorsed Betty Ann Kane, the only white candidate running for the open seat in the heavily black city.

Former Vermont Gov. Richard Snelling faced minor opposition in his bid for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a Democrat.

Former Sen. John Durkin, who lost his 1980 re-election race, faced two opponents in the New Hampshire Democratic Senate primary. Republican Rep. Bob Smith was favored in the GOP race to succeed Republican Sen. Gordon Humphrey.

Humphrey is retiring and running for a state Senate seat.

When Humphrey showed up to vote in Chichester today, he was met by his Republican primary opponent, state Rep. Jack Sherburne, who set up an umbrella and table at the polling place. Humphrey shook hands with Sherburne but later remarked to a campaign worker, ″This guy’s really obnoxious: he shows up in my own hometown.″

A House member in serious danger of losing his seat was Rep. Roy Dyson, D- Md. State legislator Barbara Kreamer was benefiting from a late disclosure that Dyson - a hawk in Congress - avoided military service as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. Seven Republicans were vying to oppose him.

Rhode Island Democrats faced a tough three-way gubernatorial primary. Gov. Edward DiPrete was heavily favored in his GOP race but faces dismal poll ratings and an uphill general election battle.

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