How big a mid-course correction?; Black votes take on more significance

Southern voters have added several more Democratic voices to their heavily Democratic, mostly conservative political chorus.

And the black vote, already an important factor, has taken on even more significance:

In Alabama, three-time former Gov. George C. Wallace (D) won a fourth term with substantial black support, despite his past segregationist statements. Mr. Wallace openly courted blacks, many of whom felt his opponent, Republican Emory Folmar, was too conservative to help them.

In Missisippi's US Senate race, John C. Stennis (D), once an ardent opponent of civil rights legislation but this year a supporter of extension of the Voting Rights Act, won easily with black support.

In Mississippi's Second Congressional District, an apparent lower-than-expected turnout among black voters contributed to the narrow loss of Robert G. Clark (D) to Webb Franklin (R). The margin was about 10 votes per precinct, said a Clark aide. Supporters of Mr. Clark, who would have been the first black elected to the House from Mississippi in this century, are already talking of another run.

But Alabama elected its first black to a statewide office: Oscar Adams won a spot on the State Supreme Court. Mr. Adams narrowly won the primary, but won the general election Tuesday by default after his opponent was disqualified because of an error in filing for office.

Democrats retained governors' chairs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; the GOP held Tennessee.

Democratic US Senate incumbents were reelected in Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In the House, Democrats in the Deep South gained five seats and Republicans held their own. One race was too close to call. The South gained five seats after the 1980 census.

Florida, which is not typically Southern, sent its usual mixed signals to the nation. Each party gained two congressional seats. In central Florida, George H. Sheldon (D) apparently failed to fan fears about possible social security cuts by Republicans in a close race against Republican Michael Bilirakis (a recount was under way at this writing). Rep. Claude Pepper (D), who has championed issues involving the elderly, won with 7l percent in his district.

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