WASHINGTON — OKLAHOMA Rep. Mike Synar narrowly lost a Democratic runoff to a retired school principal who spent less than $17,000 on his campaign, making him the third House member defeated in primaries this year.
Congressman Synar, who was seeking a ninth term in Tuesday's runoff, had a history of close races in northeastern Oklahoma's conservative second district. He was seen as more liberal than the farmers and ranchers in the rural district.
Second district Republican nominee Tom Coburn sought to portray the stunning upset as a rejection of President Clinton's policies, but Synar said the results were ``a referendum on Mike Synar and not on Bill Clinton.''
Massachusetts Republicans nominated W. Mitt Romney to take on Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy in November, and Democrats in that state picked state Rep. Mark Roosevelt to challenge popular GOP Gov. William Weld.
GOP officials believe they have a real chance of ousting Senator Kennedy with Mr. Romney, who has never held elected office. Polls over the summer show many voters think Kennedy, the fourth-longest serving member of the Senate, has been in office too long. He was first elected in 1962.
Washington's primary ballot included races to pick challengers for Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley and GOP Sen. Slade Gorton, whom Democrats consider vulnerable.
In other Oklahoma races, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure that will restrict US representatives to three two-year terms and senators to two six-year terms. And Democrats chose Lt. Gov. Jack Mildren, a former University of Oklahoma football star, to face Republican Frank Keating, a former Justice Department official, and independent Wes Watkins, a former congressman, in the gubernatorial race.