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Ads Against Rep. Goodling Backfire

May 20, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Long-time Rep. William Goodling survived a term-limit group’s barrage of critical ads to win the Republican primary, and analysts said Wednesday the organization’s campaign may even have drawn voters to him.

In the final weeks, the Wisconsin-based Americans for Limited Terms sponsored $300,000 in radio and television ads against Goodling, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

``It gave Goodling’s people a rallying point,″ said Chris Nicholas, a consultant for Goodling’s opponent. ``He effectively used the outsider theme, questioning outside groups that nobody’s seen coming in to the district.″

Goodling is vying for his 13th term in Congress.

Experts said the ads, though critical, drew attention to the issue and ultimately drove more Goodling supporters to the polls for Tuesday’s primary.

``They didn’t like the trash thrown at them,″ said G. Terry Madonna, a political analyst at Millersville University. ``Negative commercials generally depress turnout, but in this case the Republican organization got behind the incumbent and worked hard to get the vote out.″

Attorney Charles Gerow, who had no direct ties to the group but made term limits a part of his campaign platform, drew 32 percent to Goodling’s 68 percent. Two years ago, Gerow got 45 percent against Goodling.

Goodling, who has angered term-limit proponents despite his promise to make this campaign his last, is favored against Democratic hairstylist Linda Ropp in the fall general election.

Another Pennsylvania incumbent, Rep. Jon Fox, defeated three fellow Republicans.

Challenger Jonathan Newman finished last despite spending at least $600,000 of his own money, much of it for ads critical of Fox.

Goodling’s victory suggests that issue-advocacy advertising, which promises to be a force in November, can backfire.

``People in the area were becoming very upset with people from Wisconsin attacking my character, and that they would be pouring any money at all into Pennsylvania telling people how to vote,″ Goodling said.

Most of the high-profile incumbents in three states with primaries Tuesday had an easy time:

_In Oregon, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who narrowly won a special election two years ago, was nominated for a full term. The GOP nominee is state Sen. John Lim.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, seeking a second term, easily won the primary. The Republican nominee is tax watchdog Bill Sizemore, who overcame reports about his failed business ventures and trail of debt.

_In Pennsylvania, GOP Gov. Tom Ridge, seeking a second term, was unopposed. State House minority whip Ivan Itkin beat two rivals for the Democratic nomination.

Three-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and Democratic state Rep. Bill Lloyd each beat two rivals for the nomination.

_In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Huckabee won the GOP nomination. He’s running for governor for the first time after inheriting the office in July 1996 from Jim Guy Tucker, who was forced to resign after being convicted in the Whitewater scandal. Democrat Bill Bristow, the lawyer representing the state trooper in the Paula Jones case, was unopposed.

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