Montgomery, Ala. — Former Gov. George Wallace, who had been out of politics since he finished his third term as governor in 1978, placed first by a slim margin in Alabama's primary. Mr. Wallace said his political comeback was only delayed by the outcome of the election.
Mr. Wallace, who now courts the black vote and campaigns as a champion of the common man, faces a runoff with Lt. Gov. George McMillan, a ''new South''-style liberal who has the support of black community leaders. Mr. Wallace also appeared to make a pitch for Alabama's intensely conservative, predominantly white Protestant vote that once supported him solidly, but has lately been drifting to his rivals. He said he had received an encouraging phone call from the Rev. Jerry Falwell, evangelist founder of the conservative Moral Majority.
The winner of the runoff will challenge conservative Republican Emory Folmar in the general election Nov. 2.
Three other states also conducted primaries Tuesday. Among better-known winners who ran either unopposed or against weak opposition for party nominations were Democratic Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Democratic Sen. Dennis DeConcini in Arizona and Democratic Gov. Robert Graham in Florida. In Connecticut, Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker was unopposed in the primary.