Nation’s Primary Roundup
Republican Reps. William Goodling and Jon Fox faced tough primary challenges in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, while a conservative Arkansas lawmaker sought the GOP nomination for the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Dale Bumpers.
Oregon also held a primary, with disgraced former Republican Rep. Wes Cooley attempting a comeback in his rural district.
In south-central Pennsylvania, Goodling brought down the wrath of term-limit proponents despite his promise to make his 13th term his last. Americans for Limited Terms, a Wisconsin-based group, made the 70-year-old Goodling its first incumbent target, spending $250,000 on radio and TV advertisements, one of which complained about Goodling’s ``career politician ways.″
He faced Charles Gerow, a religious conservative and lawyer who made a strong showing in the primary two years ago, drawing 45 percent of the vote.
In early returns, Goodling led with 1,110 votes, or 62 percent, while Gerow had 671 votes, or 38 percent, with 4 percent of precincts reporting.
In suburban Philadelphia, the two-term Fox had three primary rivals, including two big spenders: Lawyer Jonathan Newman used $600,000 of his personal wealth on TV and radio ads, while Dr. Melissa Brown spent $200,000.
Fox, who edged Democrat Joseph Hoeffel by only 84 votes in 1996, has never had an easy election, and Republicans spanning the ideological spectrum saw an opportunity to claim the seat. Hoeffel is again the Democratic candidate.
Meanwhile, voters in Pennsylvania’s 1st District, which includes part of Philadelphia, picked a new congressman to replace Democratic Rep. Tom Foglietta, who resigned to become U.S. ambassador to Italy. Bob Brady, the city’s Democratic chairman, was heavily favored in the special election.
Also in Pennsylvania, former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky _ best known for casting the deciding vote that allowed President Clinton’s deficit-reduction package to pass in 1993 _ led two other Democrats running for lieutenant governor. She had 51,002 votes, or 55 percent of the vote, with 21 percent of precincts reporting.
In Arkansas, national Republicans didn’t wait for the primary to begin planning the fall campaign of state Sen. Fay Boozman, a religious conservative they were banking on to beat Little Rock Mayor Tom Prince for the GOP nomination.
Boozman jumped out to an early lead. With 9 percent of precincts reporting, he had 3,255 votes, or 75 percent, while Prince had 1,068 votes (25 percent).
The GOP elected its first U.S. senator ever in Arkansas two years ago when Tim Hutchison won the seat opened by the retirement of David Pryor. The party hopes to make it two-for-two this year.
Democrats faced the prospect of a June 9 runoff to choose their nominee, since none of four candidates in Tuesday’s race was expected to get a majority. The top two contenders were former Rep. Blanche Lincoln _ who quit after two terms in 1996 after having twins _ and Attorney General Winston Bryant, who lost to Hutchison in 1996.
In early returns, Lincoln held a healthy lead. She had 17,745 votes, or 46 percent of the vote, while Bryant had 10,686 votes (28 percent), with 10 percent of the precincts reporting.
Oregon’s Cooley was seeking to reclaim the seat he abandoned two years ago after it was revealed he had lied about fighting in the Korean War. In a four-way GOP field, however, he trailed the front-runner, Greg Walden, a broadcaster and former state legislator. Two Democrats sought their party’s nomination.
Most of the high-profile incumbents in the three states were expected to have an easy time in their primaries:
_In Oregon, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who narrowly won a special election two years ago, was heavily favored in his bid for a full term. State Sen. John Lim was the front-runner for the GOP nomination.
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, was riding a wave of popularity as he tried for his second term. On the Republican side, tax watchdog Bill Sizemore, remained the front-runner despite facing media reports about his failed business ventures and trail of debt.
_In Pennsylvania, GOP Gov. Tom Ridge had no primary opposition in his drive toward a second term. Three-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter easily defeated two GOP opponents; with 21 percent of precincts reporting, he had 58,931 votes, or 68 percent. Both Democratic primaries featured three-way races.
_In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Huckabee was easily leading challenger Gene McVay of Fort Smith, who ran a dark horse campaign for the GOP nomination out of his minivan. Huckabee had 5,086 votes, or 91 percent, while McVay had 515 votes, or 9 percent, with 9 percent of precincts reporting.
Huckabee is running for governor for the first time after inheriting the office in July 1996 after Jim Guy Tucker was forced to resign after being convicted in the Whitewater scandal. Bill Bristow, the lawyer representing the state trooper in the Paula Jones case, was unopposed on the Democratic side.