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URGENT Democrat Wins Special Election in Illinois; Primaries Held In Ga., Colorado

August 10, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Georgia Democratic voters nominated former TV actor Ben Jones Tuesday to run for Congress, while in a preview of November, a Democrat won a special election in southern Illinois to complete the late Rep. Mel Price’s term.

Jones, who appeared in ″The Dukes of Hazzard,″ overpowered two other Democrats to win a shot against embattled Rep. Pat Swindall for his 4th district seat in the Atlanta area.

Georgia Democrats also picked a 29-year-old lawyer, David Worley, to run against Rep. Newt Gingrich, the other Republican among the state’s 10 congressmen. Gingrich, a five-term lawmaker unopposed for his party’s nomination, has been a leader in efforts to force an investigation of House Speaker Jim Wright.

Colorado also had primaries in six congressional districts, but only one hot battle. Republican State Rep. David Bath defeated former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan, who lost to Gary Hart in the 1980 Senate race, 55 percent to 45 percent in incomplete returns. The winner will face 2nd district incumbent David Skaggs, a Democrat, in the fall.

In the special election to fill the remaining 4 1/2 months of Price’s term, Democrat Jerry Costello defeated Republican Robert Gaffner. The two also are running against each other in November for a full term from the 21st district.

Unofficial returns from all 469 precincts showed Costello with 33,247 votes, or 51.5 percent, to Gaffner’s 31,279, or 48.5 percent.

The two won their party’s nominations in the March primary after Price, a Democrat who held the seat for nearly 44 years, announced he was retiring at the end of his term. Price, however, died April 22 at 83, and both men filed for the special election.

Gaffner, 55, an administrator at St. Louis Community College, came within 943 votes of defeating Price in 1986.

This year, he waged a slashing campaign accusing Costello of political bossism and trying to link him to allegations of judicial corruption in St. Clair County.

Costello, 38, is the St. Clair County board chairman and one of the most powerful Democratic Party leaders in the region.

Costello’s campaign has accused Gaffner of smear tactics, claimed that he lacks experience in government and criticized his use of national GOP campaign funds and ″Republican media hit men who slink in from the East Coast.″

In Georgia, Swindall is considered vulnerable because of his admission that he considered using laundered drug money to finance the $1 million-plus home he built in an Atlanta suburb.

Jones, who played the rustic mechanic ″Cooter″ on the ″Dukes,″ took 47 percent of the vote against Swindall two years ago. His rivals for the Democratic nomination were lawyer Nick Moraitakis and John Stembler, a theater operator.

Unofficial returns from 205 of 220 precincts showed Jones with 30,694 votes, or 63 percent; Moraitakis, 10,061, or 21 percent; and Stembler, 8,027, or 16 percent.

In the 6th District race to oppose Gingrich, unofficial returns from 150 of 218 precincts showed Worley with 20,696 votes, or 54 percent to businessman Clyde Owens’ 17,400, or 46 percent. Worley had the backing of Georgia House Speaker Tom Murphy.

In Colorado’s 3rd District, which spans much of the western and southern part of the state, two Republicans, former Montrose County Assessor Jim Zartman and Montrose County Commissioner Ken Neesham, were on the ballot, but Neesham was forced to suspend his campaign because of strong GOP opposition. He is embroiled in a criminal investigation of alleged illegal use of county road equipment. Democratic incumbent Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell was unopposed in the primary.

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