A small but well-positioned rural backlash dashed Republicans' Senate hopes in the Midwest. Of the two close Senate races in the region, agricultural issues played a key role and Republican incumbents lost both. Democrat Kent Conrad beat Sen. Mark Andrews in North Dakota, while United States Rep. Thomas Daschle edged Sen. James Abdnor in South Dakota. Both races had been tossups.
The rest of the Midwest held few surprises. All other incumbent Senators seeking reelection, four Republicans and two Democrats, won with little trouble. In the only open Senate seat, Missouri's former Gov. Christopher ``Kit'' Bond defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods, as expected.
While the GOP lost ground in the Senate, it made gains in gubernatorial contests in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Nebraska. Nebraskans, who voted in the nation's first all-female contest for governor, picked Republican Kay Orr, the state treasurer, over Helen Boosalis, the former mayor of the state's capital.
And in Illinois, Republican Gov. James Thompson won handily. Challenger Adlai Stevenson III was given little chance after followers of Lyndon LaRouche defeated his running mates in a fluky Democratic primary last spring.
Democrats did win in the Michigan governor's race, where incumbent James Blanchard held back a challenge from William Lucas, a black county executive running as a Republican.
Both parties breathed a sigh of relief in Indiana's Eighth Congressional District. Two years ago, Frank McCloskey beat Republican Richard McIntyre by four votes, but only after multiple recounts and a hotly partisan dispute among House members. This year Representative McCloskey won with 53 percent.
In Iowa's open Sixth Congressional District, meanwhile, Hollywood star Fred Grandy proved you can come home again. The Harvard-trained Republican, formerly ``Gopher'' on ABC-TV's ``Love Boat,'' overcame his image problems and convinced the district's voters that he, not Democrat Clayton Hodgson, belonged in the US House.