Election '88: Northeast and mid-Atlantic. First in a series of state-by-state roundups of key races and issues
CONNECTICUT Two Connecticut liberals, one from each party, are squaring off for the Senate in the Nutmeg State. Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker, making a bid for a fourth term, is pitted against Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman, now the state's second-term attorney general. Connecticut conservatives could have a lot to say in the outcome of this contest, since many of them find Senator Weicker too liberal and have little enthusiasm for his reelection. Mr. Lieberman's prospects could also hinge substantially on the length of the coattails of Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.
None of Connecticut's six US House seats - three held by Republicans and three by Democrats - is expected to change hands.
In Delaware, one of the best things that has happened to S.B. Woo is that he lost in his bid to challenge Republican Sen. William Roth Jr. Or seemed to, anyway.
When the results of the Sept. 10 Democratic primary came in, it appeared that Lieutenant Governor Woo's opponent had bested him by a close margin. But several days later it turned out that in a precinct where the opponent won by 28 votes, the number 2,828 was punched into the computer. A recount gave Mr. Woo the victory - and the dispute gave him him several days of free publicity.
Senator Roth's campaign emphasizes his experience and seniority in the Senate. Best known for his sponsorship of the 1981 ``Kemp-Roth'' tax-cut bill, the senator also has a strong record of constituent service, according to political observers.
Woo, a maverick who has often bucked the state party, is billed as the candidate of the future. A former physics professor who was born in Shanghai, he comes across strongly on issues of education, technology, and international trade.
GOP Gov. Michael Castle is expected to win reelection easily over Democrat Jacob Kreshtool. And the state's sole congressman, Democratic Rep. Tom Carper, has only nominal opposition from Republican James Krapf.
Democratic Sen. George Mitchell, who gained his seat in Washington in May 1980 when Sen. Edmund Muskie was appointed secretary of state by President Jimmy Carter, is seeking a second full term. Jasper Wyman of Waterville, a conservative and former state representative, is the Republican nominee. Mr. Wyman, executive director of the Maine Christian Civic League, gained statewide attention in May 1986 as the leader of an unsuccessful voter-petition drive for an antipornography law.
Both Maine congressmen, Democrat and former Gov. Joseph Brennan of the First District, and Republican Olympia Snowe in the Second District, seem headed for reelection over, respectively, Ted O'Meara and Kenneth P. Hayes.
Pine Tree State voters will decide a proposed amendment to remove all references to gender from the Maine constitution.
Sen. Paul Sarbanes is expected to win reelection in this heavily Democratic state. His Republican opponent is Alan L. Keyes, a neoconservative former State Department official who is politically aligned with former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and Rep. Jack Kemp.
Mr. Keyes, a black, espouses an almost libertarian philosophy.
Senator Sarbanes, the third-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, has never lost an election. A recent poll showed him leading the race by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
The most volatile issue on the November ballot is a referendum seeking to overturn a strict gun-control law passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year. The gun-control law is designed to prohibit the use of so-called Saturday-night-special handguns. The law creates a nine-member commission that would approve the sale of all new handguns.
The law has won wide support from Maryland's lawmakers and many law-and-order organizations, but it faces heavy opposition from the powerful National Rifle Association.
The state's two Republican congresswomen are both likely to retain their seats. In the Second District, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley is favored to win reelection over her Democratic challenger, state Rep. Joseph Bartenfelder.
Incumbent Rep. Constance Morella of the Eighth District is also favored to win reelection in Montgomery County over her Democratic opponent, first-term state Rep. Peter Franchot.
This should be a big year for the Kennedys. In Massachusetts, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) is seeking reelection for a sixth term. His nephew and fellow Democrat, Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, is going after a second term in the Bay State's Eighth Congressional District, long served by former US House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. And in neighboring Rhode Island, political newcomer Patrick Kennedy - the younger son of Senator Kennedy - has won the Democratic nomination for a seat in the state's House of Representatives and is unopposed in his district in the general election.
Senator Kennedy, a liberal, is being challenged by Republican conservative Joseph Malone. Mr. Malone is a former executive director of the state GOP.
Congressman Kennedy, who two years ago topped a large field of Democratic hopefuls to win the party's nomination and went on to down businessman Clark Abt easily, had a free ride in this year's Democratic primary. His Republican opponent is Glenn Fiscus, a Boston realtor.
None of the Bay State's 10 other congressional seats is expected to change party hands, although in the Second District there will be a newcomer. Springfield Mayor Richard Neal is virtually assured of replacing fellow Democrat Rep. Edward Boland, who is retiring from Congress after 28 years. There is no Republican nominee for the seat.
The strongest GOP bids for Bay State congressional seats appear to be in the Fourth and 10th Districts against Democratic incumbents Barney Frank and Gerry Studds. Congressman Frank, a fourth-term liberal, is being challenged by Republican newcomer Debra R. Tucker of Plainville, an antiabortion activist. Congressman Studds's GOP challenger is Bridgewater State College Prof. Jon L. Bryan of Cape Cod.
Rep. Silvio Conte, a 30-year House veteran and the only Republican member of the Bay State's congressional delegation, is being challenged by Democratic newcomer John Arden of East Hampton.
Four voter initiative questions will be on the state ballot. They seek to repeal a controversial pay raise of more than $1,000 a year that the state lawmakers voted themselves in 1987, grant protective rights to farm animals, shut down the state's two nuclear power plants, and repeal a 1914 law guaranteeing workers on state contracts the same pay scales as those provided on union contracts for private projects.
With third-term Gov. John Sununu retiring, the focal point on the New Hampshire ballot is a contest between Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Paul McEachern, a Portsmouth lawyer. Mr. Gregg, a fourth-term congressman from the Granite State's Second District, is the son of Hugh Gregg, a former governor. Mr. McEachern is making a third try for the governorship.
The future of the still unopened Seabrook nuclear power plant is a key issue in the campaign. GOP nominee Gregg supports its opening, provided federal safety standards are met. His Democratic opponent, Mr. McEachern, wants no part in opening the nuclear plant.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Charles Douglas (R) and James W. Donchess, a former Democratic mayor of Nashua, are squaring off for the congressional seat being vacated by Gregg.
The environment is a big concern in New Jersey, where there are many toxic-waste sites and where beaches were frequently closed this summer because of unsafe water conditions.
But like the current presidential race, some New Jersey residents say, the US Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg and Republican challenger Pete Dawkins focuses too much on personal image. There is less talk about the environment or a split-level economy than about who is the ``real'' New Jerseyan or who was buddies with Jane Fonda.
Tom O'Neill, president of Partnership for New Jersey, a nonprofit group of business executives which looks at state issues, says it's ``disappointing that a class guy like Pete Dawkins and an able legislator like Frank Lautenberg would spend $15 million to do this to each other.''
There are estimates that the candidates will end up spending $5 million to $8 million each, mostly on TV ads.
Polls show that Senator Lautenberg, a wealthy computer entrepreneur who defeated Millicent Fenwick for the seat in 1982, leads Mr. Dawkins by about 20 points. Dawkins, who was a Heisman Trophy-winning football star at West Point, a Rhodes scholar, a brigadier general in the Army, and a Wall Street investment banker, plays heavily on his patriotic background.
Some observers believe that Mr. Lautenberg has made an error in his ad campaign, which attacks Dawkins as a carpetbagger, a tactic many see as divisive.
Dawkins has attacked Lautenberg for accepting a campaign contribution from Jane Fonda, whom he describes as having radical, leftist views. Later Tom Hayden, Ms. Fonda's husband, angrily derided the comments of Dawkins, a longtime family friend.
Richard Roper, director of the program for New Jersey affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, agrees that there is not much ``policy-focused discussion'' at this point. ``I suspect that will have to change as the election draws closer, because the public will get a bit bored of a campaign that doesn't focus on policy matters,'' Mr. Roper says.
Democratic Rep. Peter Rodino, who won renown during the Watergate impeachment hearings in 1974, is retiring after 40 years in the House of Representatives. The party should hang on to his 10th District seat, though. Newark city councilman Donald M. Payne, who is expected to defeat Republican Michael Webb, would become the first black to represent a district that has had a black majority since 1972.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) can rest easy in his bid for a third term as New York's senior senator. Many Republicans had hoped Rudolph Giuliani, the US attorney in New York City and a well-known crime-fighter, would take on the senator. That tangle would have made for an interesting race.
But Mr. Giuliani declined, and the GOP had a hard time scaring up a candidate. The nominee, Robert McMillan, a lawyer from suburban Long Island, has never held elective office.
New York's congressional delegation consists of 19 Democratic members (20 before the recent resignation of Rep. Mario Biaggi after his conviction on federal bribery and fraud charges) and 14 Republican members. Little change is expected in that balance. Democrat Eliot L. Engel seems sure to keep Mr. Biaggi's 19th District seat in the party's hands, as he has no Republican opponent.
Races being watched by both parties include one on Long Island, one in New York City, and several upstate. In the First Congressional District on eastern Long Island, incumbent Democrat George Hochbrueckner faces a tough campaign against Suffolk County legislator Edward P. Romaine. The Democrat, who opposes the Shoreham nuclear power plant, won his seat in a largely Republican district. The Democrats pin their hopes on the power of incumbency.
On Staten Island, Rep. Guy Molinari (R) has won solid victories in the 14th District since his initial election in 1980. Known for his emphasis on constituent service, Mr. Molinari has also championed the issue of airline safety. His opponent, Jerome X. O'Donovan, is a New York councilman who Democrats say is the strongest candidate they have pitted against Mr. Molinari.
Syracuse's 27th District is an open seat with the retirement of GOP Rep. George Wortley, and Republican City Council president James T. Walsh has had a lead in polls to capture the seat. His opponent, Rosemary S. Pooler, a lawyer and consumer advocate, finished fewer than 1,000 votes behind Mr. Wortley in 1986. The economy is an issue in Syracuse, which has one of the highest unemployment rate among New York cities.
With Jack Kemp taking a job at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington after his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination, the 31st District outside Buffalo is up for grabs. Kemp prot'eg'e Bill Paxon, a state assemblyman, seeks the support of Mr. Kemp's largely GOP constituents. Democratic voters nominated Erie County clerk David J. Swarts to challenge Mr. Paxon.
At the state level, the retirement of state Senate majority leader Warren Anderson (R) has caused a stir in Republican politics. Senator Anderson, a powerful figure who has been a thorn in the side of Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, has stymied Democratic proposals for years. The GOP has tapped Long Island state Sen. Ralph Marino as his successor, assuming he is reelected and, as expected, the Republicans maintain a majority in the state Senate.
Moderate Republican Sen. John Heinz should have no problem winning reelection over his Democratic challenger, former Philadelphia city controller Joseph C. Vignola. Indeed, Senator Heinz's popularity is boosting the fortunes of George Bush, who faces a very tight race in this state.
``The US Senate race is pretty much a fait accompli,'' says Pennsylvania GOP political director Lowman Henry. Mr. Heinz has strong support even among Democratic voters here.
``Pennsylvania is quite a centrist state,'' explains Temple University professor Sandra Featherman. Currently, the Republicans maintain a four-vote advantage in the state Senate, while the Democrats narrowly control the House, with a two-seat advantage.
A tight race is on for the Eighth Congressional District seat in Bucks County, in northern Pennsylvania. Democratic Rep. Peter Kostmayer is trying to hang on to the seat that he has narrowly won in five out of his six House campaigns. Mr. Kostmayer's Republican opponent is former state Sen. Ed Howard.
Bucks County is a mostly upscale, affluent area that is becoming increasingly Republican as people migrate here from Philadelphia and other cities.
``Generally, the elections are in the hands of individual, moderate minded people who are registered as Republicans,'' says John Seager, press spokesman for Representative Kostmayer. ``You don't have ideological Republicans here. They're fully prepared to vote for Democrats if it suits their interests.'' Professor Featherman expects this election will be decided by no more than a few thousand votes.
Republican Sen. John Chafee is being challenged in his reach for a third term by Democratic Lt. Gov. Richard A. Licht - whose uncle 20 years ago unseated then-Governor Chafee.
The Rhode Island gubernatorial race is a rematch of the 1986 contest, in which Republican incumbent Edward DiPrete bested Democrat Bruce G. Sundlun, a Providence television executive.
Neither of the Rhode Island congressmen, Democrat Fernand St Germain of the First District and Republican Claudine Schneider of the Second District, appears to be headed for an unseating. Mr. St Germain is being challenged by Republican Ronald Machtley, while Ms. Schneider's Democratic opponent will be Ruth Morgenthau.
Liberal Democratic Gov. Madeleine Kunin - an early Dukakis booster - is being challenged in her bid for a third term by Londonderry's Michael Bernhardt, the Republican floor leader of the state's House of Representatives.
Seven-term US Rep. James M. Jeffords (R) is seeking to move up to the US Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Robert Stafford after 17 years. Opposing Mr. Jeffords for the open seat is William Gray, a Jericho lawyer.
A three-way battle is under way for Vermont's only US House seat. The contenders are former Lt. Gov. Peter Smith, who was the GOP nominee for governor two years ago; Paul Poirier, a Democrat from Barre who is currently the majority floor leader in the state's House of Representatives; and Burlington's Socialist mayor, Bernard Sanders.
Pamela Hartman assisted in research for this survey. First of five regional roundups. Oct. 5: The Midwest.