Richardson loss to Shamie in Bay State may open new GOP era

The Massachusetts Republican Party, once dominated by moderates, has taken a sharp turn to the political right. The nomination of arch-conservative Raymond Shamie for the US Senate seat being vacated by neo-liberal Democrat Paul E. Tsongas may force the GOP's national leadership to do some fancy footwork.

Many Republican activists, including some close to the White House, had considered former US Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson a brighter prospect on the November ballot than millionaire industrialist Shamie.

Lt. Gov. John F. Kerry, who narrowly bested third-term liberal US Rep. James M. Shannon for the Democratic senatorial nomination, is a liberal cast more in the mold of US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy than that of Senator Tsongas, whom he hopes to succeed.

In contrast, Mr. Shamie is perhaps even more of a conservative than President Reagan, whom he has enthusiastically embraced since launching his candidacy nearly a year ago.

Contributing to the clobbering of Mr. Richardson, a GOP moderate who held a wide lead in voter-preference polls earlier this summer, was the former federal Cabinet official's dissociation of himself from the Republican platform adopted at the party's August national convention in Dallas.

Pledging to hold the line, come what may, against any tax increases, Shamie was able to capitalize on his GOP primary opponent's refusal to make such a commitment.

Although twice having held state elective office, first as lieutenant governor and then attorney general, Richardson had been pretty much out of the state since January 1969, when he was appointed to his first high-ranking federal post, that of undersecretary of state, by President Nixon.

This, coupled with his absence from the Massachusetts political scene for more than 15 years, may have become more of an issue than he had anticipated. It subjected him to charges he had ''lost touch.''

Mr. Kerry, whose first appearance on the national political scene came more than a decade ago as leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, scored his first elective victory two years ago as the running mate of Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.

An early supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, the lieutenant governor, unlike Shamie, is against the proposed balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution.

Despite his disappointment in being swamped, almost 2 to 1, by his conservative rival, Richardson has thrown his support behind Shamie.

Shamie, in his acceptance, paid tribute to the former attorney general for his distinguished career serving the state and nation.

In the four-way tussle for the Democratic senatorial nomination, Kerry beat Congressman Shannon 40.8 percent to 37.8 percent. The Shamie victory over Richardson was 62.4 to 37.6 percent.

In the state's 10th Congressional District liberal US Rep. Gerry E. Studds breezed to renomination by nearly 2 to 1 over his main ballot opponent, who had sought to capitalize on the congressman's 1983 House censure for a homosexual affair, a decade earlier, with a teen-age Capitol page. Republican moderate Lewis Crampton, a former official in the federal Environmental Protection Agency , easily won the GOP primary and will face Mr. Studds in November.

State Democratic chairman Chester G. Atkins, a liberal, narrowly topped fellow state Sen. Philip L. Shea, a conservative, for nomination to the Fifth District seat being vacated by Shannon. The Republican challenger in November will be Gregory Hyatt, a conservative and former head of the organization that pushed through the state's local property tax limitation law.

Democratic US Rep. Edward J. Markey, who, after announcing he would run for the Tsongas seat, changed his mind in favor of seeking reelection to the House, fended off what had been expected to be stiff opposition from former state Sen. Samuel Rotondi to win renomination. Former Somerville Mayor S. Lester Ralph, once a prominent Democratic liberal but now a Republican, will be the GOP candidate for the Markey's Seventh District chair.

In Washington, the only other state to hold a primary Sept. 18, Republican Gov. John Spellman scored an easy victory over token opposition and will try for a second term in November against Booth Gardner, who overcame accusations that he was trying to buy the election to win the Democratic nomination.

In the hotly contested First Congressional District, television news personality John Miller led a crowded field of nine Republicans with 32 percent of the district reporting. Miller is seeking the nomination to succeed GOP Rep. Joel Pritchard, who is retiring.

Environmentalist Brock Evans won the Democratic nomination in the First District.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.