Election '88: the South
ALABAMA There are no major statewide races here, and the Democrats should retain their domination of the state's congressional delegation.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
If there's to be a lively contest in Alabama, it will most likely be in the southernmost district, around Mobile. This is one of two GOP districts in the state, but two-term incumbent Sonny Callahan has drawn a serious challenger in Democrat John Tyson Jr., a member of the state board of education.
Most of the attention this year went to the Democratic primaries for state Supreme Court nominations. Labor unions and trial lawyers pitted themselves against businesspeople and insurance companies in backing judges who would interpret new limitations on liability awards the state has enacted.
The candidates supported by labor and lawyers, who oppose the limitations, generally carried the day. Republicans are not strenuously contesting these offices. ARKANSAS
The only serious competition in Arkansas this fall is presidential. A tossup state, it is meriting frequent visits from the national candidates.
Gov. Bill Clinton was nearly a contender for the Democratic nomination himself. Instead he became an active backer of Michael Dukakis's campaign.
Arkansans are unimpressed by the national attention their governor garners. On the other hand, the infamous speech he gave at the Atlanta convention this summer - the biggest oratorical belly flop of the year - did him little harm here.
None of Arkansas's four congressmen - three Democrats and one Republican - face reelection problems. FLORIDA
Florida lost a leading figure in the Senate when Lawton Chiles (D), chairman of the Budget Committee, announced his retirement. Then the leading candidate to replace him, popular former Gov. Reubin Askew (D), withdrew from the race, fed up with endless fund raising.
The September primary whittled the remaining Democrats down to Rep. Buddy MacKay and Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter. Mr. MacKay emerged as the nominee in an Oct. 4 runoff.
His Republican opponent is Rep. Connie Mack, one of the most conservative members of Congress.
The Senate race has left three open congressional seats. Rep. Dan Mica lost in the Democratic Senate primary, and the bid to replace him appears to be one of Florida's most competitive House races. Former state Senate president Harry Johnston (D) is squaring off against Palm Beach city commissioner Ken Adams (R).
Mr. Mack's seat is likely to stay Republican, MacKay's to stay Democratic.
The most controversial items on the Florida ballot this November will be highly charged propositions. One is to make English the state's official language. Business and Latin groups are opposing this measure, but fear of cultural encroachment is running high.
The other is to cap liability payments awarded by courts for non-economic damages at $100,000. Spurred by Florida's crisis in liability insurance, the measure has state lawyers fighting mad. GEORGIA
The race they talk about in Georgia this year is Republican Rep. Pat Swindall's mud-splattered reelection brawl against Ben Jones (D), formerly an actor on TV's ``Dukes of Hazzard.''
Democrats have held their ground against the GOP march better here than in most other Southern states. Of Georgia's 10 US House seats, the incumbents most at risk are the two Republicans.
Mr. Swindall, a young fundamentalist conservative from suburban Atlanta, is in the most trouble. It began when he pursued an $850,000 loan even after an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent told him it might include drug profits. He never borrowed the money, but transcripts of the negotiations were published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta pollster Claibourne Darden gives the edge in the race to Mr. Jones.
Georgia's other Republican congressman, Newt Gingrich, is more secure. But he is facing his most considerable opponent yet in lawyer David Worley. Mr. Gingrich is favored, but Mr. Worley's aggressive approach is likely to narrow the distance between them, Mr. Darden says.
The Republicans are pushing their own dark-horse effort to unseat Democratic Rep. Charles Hatcher in south Georgia. The young GOP challenger is Ralph Hudgens, from the Pat Robertson camp. LOUISIANA
Elections here are unique - carrying the structure of one-party politics into the era of the two-party South. An all-comers, nonpartisan primary was held Oct. 1. In races where a single candidate did not win a majority, a runoff will be held Nov. 8 between the top two finishers.