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Cantor Leads for Va. House Seat

June 14, 2000

Virginia state Del. Eric Cantor took an early lead over state Sen. Steve Martin in the GOP primary for an open House seat in a race that brought bitter accusations of financial and personal improprieties.

With 31 percent of precincts reporting, Cantor led with 13,325 votes, or 73 percent, to Martin’s 4,970 votes, or 27 percent. Cantor, who was endorsed by GOP Gov. Jim Gilmore, questioned Martin’s votes on legislative pay and expenses. Martin raised issues about Cantor’s family’s dealings in real estate.

Elsewhere on a day of primary and runoff elections in five states, an open House seat from South Carolina drew six GOP candidates, while two Arkansas Democrats went to a runoff for a House seat. Virginia also saw a crowded fight for a second open House seat.

If Cantor wins, he will face school superintendent Warren Stewart, who Democrats nominated at the last minute on Monday in the race to fill the seat of GOP Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, who is retiring after 20 years.

In an eastern Virginia House race, businessman Paul Jost led a crowded field after spending nearly $1 million of his own money. Jost, hoping for the nomination to replace retiring GOP Rep. Herbert H. Bateman, also won the governor’s endorsement.

Jost was attacked by other candidates who said he supported abortion and gay rights, and critics mailed out fliers with a photo of two men kissing, labeled ``Paul Jost’s Vision of Virginia.″ Jost says he is opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger. On gay rights, his campaign says Jost opposes all forms of discrimination.

Other candidates include Mike Rothfeld, a conservative political consultant, and Jo Ann S. Davis, a member of the state House of Delegates. The winner faces former Fredericksburg mayor Lawrence Davies, the Democratic nominee chosen last month.

The biggest seats up for election Tuesday went unchallenged. No primary opponents emerged for two-term Democratic Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia, freshman GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, seeking a third full term. Even North Dakota’s seat for governor, open because Republican Ed Schafer chose not to seek a third term, went without a primary fight.

In Tuesday’s race for a South Carolina coastal seat in Congress that has been in GOP control for more than a decade, state Rep. Henry Brown led in early returns.

With 12 percent of precincts reporting, Brown took 49 percent of the vote to former state transportation chairman H.B. ``Buck″ Limehouse’s 27 percent, though Limehouse outspent him by nearly 3-1. Four other candidates trailed in the race to replace GOP Rep. Mark Sanford, who kept his pledge to retire after three terms.

The winner needs more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. Democrat Andy Brack, a former reporter and spokesman for Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings, is unopposed in the primary.

In a South Carolina race that will likely decide the general election winner, first-term GOP Rep. James DeMint led a poorly funded challenger with 78 percent of the early vote. Democrats did not run a candidate in the heavily GOP district.

North Dakota voters were asked whether to eliminate the state treasurer’s post, a proposal that drew criticism from state treasurers around the nation.

And voters in six western counties were asked if they want to set their clocks ahead and join the eastern part of the state. Whatever the vote, county and state officials must agree on any change. Several other counties aren’t considering a move from Mountain time.

In the Democratic race for an Arkansas House seat, state Sen. Mike Ross and former TV reporter Dewayne Graham returned for a runoff. The winner will face incumbent GOP Rep. Jay Dickey in the fall.

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