Election '88: the Midwest
ILLINOIS The headline-grabbing race in Chicago is for an obscure but patronage-rich office - clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court.Skip to next paragraph
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Pitting a ``new'' white-ethnic Republican and a ``traditional'' white-ethnic Democrat, the contest is billed as a test of the party loyalty of Reagan Democrats.
Democrats say their candidate, Aurelia Pucinski, will carry the election handily against Edward Vrdolyak, a controversial former chairman of the county Democratic Party, who is now a Republican. Republicans say that even if Mr. Vrdolyak loses, however, his Chicago supporters and voter-registration drives in the suburbs could win additional ballot-box clout for the GOP.
Congressional races to watch are topped by the Fourth District, south and west of Chicago. Freshman Republican Rep. Jack Davis is in a close match with former state Sen. George E. Sangmeister to represent what Mr. Davis calls a ``nitty-gritty district'' that weaves through suburbs and old industrial towns.
In the central 18th District, Republican Rep. Robert Michel, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, is up against an old foe, Democrat G.Douglas Stephens, who almost unseated him in 1982. Mr. Michel has tended his district more assiduously, though, and he won his last election with 63 percent of the vote.
In the 21st District, Democrat Jerry Costello is expected to beat GOP candidate Robert H. Gaffner, with help from a solid base among East St. Louis's black voters. Mr. Costello squeaked past Mr. Gaffner into the late Melvin Price's seat in a special election this summer.
For the first time in 20 years, Democrats have a good chance of taking the governorship in this usually reliable Republican state.
Their candidate, Indiana Secretary of State Evan Bayh, has led Lt. Gov. John M. Mutz (R) in the polls all summer. Even after the nomination of Indiana's Sen. Dan Quayle (R) as vice-president, which should boost the Republican turnout, Mr. Mutz remains the underdog. He has highlighted his governmental experience over his younger opponent. But Mr. Bayh appears to be scoring well with voters by stressing the need for a change.
The GOP can take some consolation in the expected reelection of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar over Democrat Jack Wickes, an Indianapolis lawyer.
But some nip-and-tuck congressional races remain. The contest in the Third Congressional District is a rematch between incumbent Republican Rep. John Hiler and Democrat Tom Ward. In 1986, Mr. Hiler won by just 47 votes - the nation's closest House race that year.
In the Fifth District, Democratic Rep. Jim Jontz is trying to get elected to a second term in a normally safe Republican area. His GOP opponent, Patricia L. Williams, was a top aide to the former eight-term incumbent, Elwood Hillis.
With no US Senate or gubernatorial race, Iowa is in a once-in-12-years political Brigadoon. Its residents seem to be resting from the surfeit of political hoopla during the presidential caucuses in February. As one resident says, after you've seen Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis down the street, it's hard to get excited about seeing him on TV.
Democrats hope that Mr. Dukakis's bid will pull the chair out from under a few GOP congressmen. Top on their wish list is the Second District, where Democrat Eric Tabor is in a rematch against GOP Rep. Thomas Tauke.
Likewise, Republicans are hoping to recapture their traditional turf in the Third District, where GOP lawyer Donald B. Redfern is challenging Democratic Rep. David Nagle. Although the GOP held the seat from 1934 to 1986, Mr. Nagle is expected to win reelection.