Some firsts, but few big surprises in elections across US
Boston — Women, blacks, and deeply entrenched incumbents were big winners in the latest round of elections across America. The Tuesday balloting, involving one seat in each branch of Congress, two governorships, and the mayoral chairs in close to 100 municipalities, produced a lot of firsts but few surprises.
Although Democrats generally fared better than Republicans, particularly in the more high-visibility contests, it was anything but a sweep.
In Washington State, for example, former three-term Republican Gov. Daniel Evans won the United States Senate seat that Democrat Henry M. Jackson occupied for 30 years until his passing late last summer.
The gubernatorial victory of Democrat Martha Layne Collins in Kentucky makes the now-lieutenant governor the nation's only woman state chief executive and the first in Kentucky. She defeated Republican Jim Bunning, a former major-league baseball pitching star and now stockbroker, for the office being vacated by Democrat John Y. Brown, who was ineligible for a second four-year term under Kentucky's constitution.
In Mississippi, the governorship was also won by a Democrat, state Attorney General Bill Allain. He outdistanced both Republican Leon Bramlett and Charles Evers, a black activist running as an independent, for the seat currently held by Democrat William Winter, who is also barred from another term.
Voters in Georgia's Seventh Congressional District chose Democratic State Rep. George Darden over Kathryn McDonald, the wife of the late US Rep. Larry P. McDonald, to fill out the remaining 14 months in the latter's term. Mrs. McDonald, whose husband, a conservative congressman, was one of 269 passengers killed when a Korean Air Lines plane was shot down by a Soviet fighter in early September, had topped a field of 10, but failed to win a clear majority vote in a special election earlier.
On the mayoral front, Philadelphia chose Democrat W. Wilson Goode as its municipal leader for the next four years. The former city managing director becomes the first black ever to hold the reins there.
In winning, Mr. Goode polled 55 percent of the votes cast, easily topping his two opponents, Republican John J. Egan Jr. and Thomas Leonard, a former Democratic city councilor running as an independent.
In his victory statement the Philadelphia mayor-elect pledged to be ''mayor of all the people.''
His election had been anticipated since last spring's Democratic primary in which he defeated former Mayor Frank L. Rizzo. Coming on the heels of last April's mayoral victory of Harold Washington in Chicago, it means that four of the nation's six largest cities will have black chief executives. The others are Tom Bradley in Los Angeles and Coleman Young in Detroit.
Voters in Charlotte, N.C., also have elected their city's first black mayor. Democrat Harvey Gantt, an architect and civic leader, beat Republican Ed Peacock for the top municipal chair.
Another black scoring big on the mayoral front was Richard G. Hatcher of Gary , Ind., winner of a fifth term.
Black incumbent Mayor Thirman L. Milner was reelected to a second two-year term in Hartford, Conn. In 1981 he was the first black elected mayor in New England.
Big-city women mayoral winners include Houston's Kathy Whitmire and San Francisco's Dianne Feinstein. Mayor Whitmire's closest opponent, political activist Bill Wright, already has committed himself to another try.
Mayor Feinstein, in winning a second full term, outdistanced Cesar Ascarrunz, the closest of her five ballot challengers, nearly 10 to 1.
Although Mayor Whitmire's victory in Houston was somewhat narrower, she polled better than 50 percent of the votes cast, thus not only topping all 10 of her opponents combined but becoming the first chief executive in 16 years chosen without the necessity of a runoff.
In Columbus, Ohio, where 12-year Republican Mayor Thomas Moody did not seek a fourth term, the seat remains in GOP hands with the election of David Rinehart, the Franklin County treasurer, who beat Democrat Michael Dorrian.
Most incumbent mayors of large and medium-size cities won new terms and, with few exceptions, won rather handily.
Republican William Hudnut in Indianapolis, Democrat William Donald Schaefer in Baltimore, Democrat Ted Wilson in Salt Lake City, Democrat George Latimer in St. Paul, and Pete Crivaro in Des Moines were among those gaining new mayoral terms.
In Miami a runoff election looms between Mayor Maurice Ferre and Xavier Suarez, since the incumbent failed to win a clear majority in Tuesday's election.
Buoyed by the Goode and Gantt wins and the Milner and Hatcher reelections, blacks are hoping to score in the Nov. 15 Boston mayoral election, where former state Rep. Melvin H. King, a black, is pitted against City Councilor Raymond L. Flynn. After 16 years, incumbent Kevin H. White is not seeking reelection.