Simon Hails ‘New Beginning’ After Home-State Win
CHICAGO (AP) _ A jubilant Sen. Paul Simon savored a primary victory in his home state of Illinois, saying, ″I have been judged by those who know me best″ and talking optimistically today of his chances at a brokered Democratic National Convention.
He promptly turned his sights on the next tests - Michigan, which holds caucuses on March 26, and Wisconsin, which holds its primary April 5. Simon was campaigning in Wisconsin today.
He said he hopes to make a respectable showing in Michigan’s March 26 caucuses, but said he does not expect to win.
″Frankly, I hope we pick up a good chunk of delegates and do respectably, but I don’t anticipate winning in Michigan,″ said Simon. ″In Wisconsin, we’re going to have to have some paid media ... and I expect to do well.″
He had predicted repeatedly during his Illinois campaign that none of the Democratic candidates would have the nomination wrapped up by the time the party’s national convention begins in July, and he said today his victory was evidence to support that prediction.
″The reality is we’re going to have to go, we’re going to have a wide open convention,″ he said on ABC-TV. ″I don’t know who out there will emerge, but I think Paul Simon has as good a shot as anyone.″
Party chairman Paul Kirk said this week that if there is no obvious winner by the end of the primary season party leaders and the candidates should meet and settle on a nominee before the convention. But Simon said he didn’t think much of that idea.
″I would be happy to participate,″ he said. But he added, ″I am doubtful that you’re going to emerge with a winner from that kind of operation. ... I’m not saying no to a summit meeting; I’ll participate, but I’m not optimistic that it will provide answers.″
In the Illinois contest, Simon beat out fellow favorite son Jesse Jackson, with Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis finishing well behind the two leaders.
Earlier, Simon had made it clear that Illinois was a ″must-win″ state for him, saying he would drop out if he did not win both the popular and the delegate vote.
He did both.
″This is a new beginning for the Paul Simon candidacy,″ he told a packed Chicago hotel ballroom of cheering supporters Tuesday night. He was interrupted frequently with shouts of ″We Want Paul.″
Even with his victory, Simon’s national delegate total lagged far behind those of Dukakis, Sen. Albert Gore Jr. and Jackson.
The Associated Press delegate survey showed Dukakis with 464.5 and Jackson with 460.55 delegates. Gore had 354.8, and Simon 171.5 delegates. Only Rep. Richard Gephardt, who was fighting for survival after a poor Super Tuesday showing, trailed Simon with 145.
Simon says his victory in his home state showed there is no clear-cut winner in the Democratic presidential race - and that means he still has a chance.
″It’s not over yet,″ he declared.
Dukakis, Jackson and Gore carved up the victories and the votes among them last week on Super Tuesday. Simon sat out the contests.
The senator seemed in good spirits as he cast his ballot at the Makanda Township Fire Station along with his wife, Jeanne, telling reporters: ″I had no trouble deciding who to vote for.″
Simon, who was strapped for cash, spent no money on television ads in the Illinois primary campaign, hoping instead to draw support on the basis of his record. By contrast, rivals Gore and Dukakis spent heavily - $200,000 for Gore, $250,000 for Dukakis.
Simon openly worried that he could take second place to Jackson if Dukakis siphoned off enough votes.