Congress and statehouses: politics around the nation

The Northeast In New England, two veteran federal lawmakers - one from each party - were retired from office by their constituents in the region's biggest upsets.

Connecticut's maverick US Sen. Lowell Weicker (R) lost his fourth-term bid to Democrat Joseph Lieberman, the state's attorney general. And in neighboring Rhode Island, 14-term US Rep. Fernand St Germain (D) was beaten by Ronald K. Machtley (R), a political newcomer, in the heavily Democratic First Congressional District. Congressman St Germain had been under a cloud since a 1987 House inquiry involving allegations of ethics violations.

Other new faces in the New England congressional delegation include Democrat Richard Neal in Massachusetts, and Republicans Charles Douglas and Peter Smith in New Hampshire and Vermont, respectively. No seats changed party hands. Democratic US Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and George Mitchell of Maine, and Republican John Chafee of Rhode Island, were reelected.

In the regional gubernatorial races, Vermont's Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D) and Rhode Island's Gov. Edward DiPrete (R) both won third terms.

In New York, US Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) easily won his bid for a third term over Robert R. McMillan.

As for US House seats in New York, in a race that was still undecided as of yesterday morning, Democrat Nita Lowey was ahead of incumbent Rep. Joseph DioGuardi (R) in Westchester County. George Hochbrueckner (D) retained his eastern Long Island congressional seat, and Republican Bill Paxon won the race to replace Rep. Jack Kemp outside Buffalo. The Bronx elected the state's first black district attorney, Robert T. Johnson.

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) emerged the victor over Pete Dawkins (R) in an expensive and often negative race. Donald M. Payne (D) inherited the seat of longtime Rep. Peter Rodino (D), becoming the state's first black congressman.

In Pennsylvania, both Sen. John Heinz (R) and Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D) will return to Washington.

Incumbents fared well in Delaware too, with Sen. William Roth Jr. (R), Gov. Michael Castle (R), and Rep. Tom Carper (D) all retaining their seats.

Maryland voters gave Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes a win over Republican Alan L. Keyes. And incumbent Rep. Constance A. Morella (R) defeated Peter Franchot (D).

The South

Southerners were ticket-splitters with a vengeance Tuesday.

The region voted heavily for George Bush. Only West Virginia, on the Mason-Dixon line, went to Michael Dukakis. Yet in five Senate races, three of them for open seats, Trent Lott of Mississippi was the only Republican to follow Bush's lead.

Mr. Lott's comfortable victory gives Mississippi only its second Republican senator since Reconstruction and marks the first time a Deep South state has sent two Republicans to the Senate at once.

But the GOP lost a Senate seat in Virginia - the seat Paul Trible is vacating - where former Gov. Chuck Robb blew away Republican Maurice A. Dawkins.

The major cliffhanger of the region, if not the whole nation, was the Florida Senate race to replace retiring Democrat Lawton Chiles. Democrat Buddy MacKay led Republican Connie Mack by a fraction of a percent in election-day voting. But with absentee ballots still to be counted, Mr. Mack had hopes of a reversal.

Two Democratic senators, Jim Sasser of Tennessee and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, cruised to landslide reelections.

The Southeastern races for the House of Representatives fit the national pattern in an election where some 99 percent of incumbents were reelected.

The trend is clearest in North Carolina, famous for several revolving-door House seats. The state had more vulnerable House incumbents this year than any other state delegation in the nation - or so the politicos thought. Yet voters reelected all 11 sitting representatives.

One Georgia incumbent, Republican Pat Swindall, was put out by the voters in favor of former TV actor Ben Jones. Mr. Swindall is under indictment for perjury after being a target in a federal money-laundering investigation.

Floridians turned one Democratic House seat over to the GOP when Clifford B. Stearns beat state House Speaker Jon Mills for Buddy MacKay's seat. However, 10-term Democratic incumbent Bill Chappell, tarnished by the Pentagon procurement scandal, was still in jeopardy Wednesday - awaiting absentee ballot counts with a thin lead.

Otherwise, although the region will bring some new faces to Congress, no seats changed party hands.

In governor's races, Jim Martin of North Carolina became the first Republican chief executive to be reelected in that state's history. But West Virginia's Arch Moore, also a Republican, was turned out by Democrat Gaston Caperton.

The Midwest

If the Midwest provided some suspense for the presidential contest, other races here went pretty much according to script. Incumbents were big winners. The few changes indicate, however, that George Bush's successful election battle was no Reagan revolution.

As expected, Democrats picked up one US Senate seat in the region. Nebraskans chose their popular former governor, Democrat Bob Kerrey, over GOP Sen. David Karnes, who had been appointed to fill the empty seat in 1986. Democrats also managed to hold on to the open Senate seat in Wisconsin. Taking the mantle from retiring William Proxmire, Democrat Herbert Kohl topped a valiant effort by Republican Susan Engeleiter.

Two of the region's three governors' races also went to incumbents, while the Democrats picked up an important seat in Indiana. Democrat Evan Bayh turned back a late surge from Lt. Gov. John Mutz, giving Indiana its first Democratic governor in 20 years.

In the US House of Representatives, there were also few surprises. Indiana's Third Congressional District, scene of the closest House race in 1986, set the tone of good news for current office-holders in the Midwest. Republican John Hiler was reelected with an unusually comfortable margin in his rematch with Democrat Tom Ward. In 1986, Representative Hiler won by a scant 47 votes.

Elsewhere, closely watched races generally went to incumbents, except in Illinois and Nebraska, where Democrats netted an extra seat in each state. Illinois freshman GOP incumbent Jack Davis was narrowly defeated by popular local Democrat George Sangmeister, despite last-minute ads featuring President Reagan supporting Mr. Davis.

In Nebraska's Second District, vacated by Republican Hal Daub, Democrat Peter Hoagland won the seat in a hotly contested race against Jerry Schenken, a Republican physician.

Midwestern state legislatures did not change hands. But early returns in Indiana suggest that the state's House could be split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. That would set the stage for an important battle for House speaker, who must be elected by a majority of the state representatives.

In the Chicago area, widely watched bids by Democrats-turned-Republican to win Cook County races ended in generally disappointing results, though the GOP made some inroads into the vote tallies of Democratic strongholds.

The Mountain West

In Arizona, Democratic US Sen. Dennis DeConcini was easily returned to his seat. Voters also approved a measure requiring all statewide officials to be elected by a majority vote. The measure was directed at former Republican Gov. Evan Mecham, who was impeached this year for personal use of public funds. Mr. Mecham was elected in 1986 with just 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Montana, until recently considered the most marginally Republican of the Rocky Mountain states, appears to be embracing the GOP more fully. Democratic US Sen. John Melcher lost his seat to Republican Conrad Burns, while voters chose Stan Stephens as their governor over former two-term Democratic Gov. Thomas Judge. Mr. Burns becomes the first Republican senator from the state since 1946.

In Nevada's US Senate race, popular Democratic Gov. Richard Bryan squeaked by incumbent Republican Chic Hecht in what was supposed to be an easy win for Mr. Bryan. Bryan will be replaced in the governor's seat by Democratic Lt. Gov. Robert Miller.

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman easily defended his seat, while Republicans held on to an open GOP congressional seat with the election of Steven H. Schiff over Democrat Tom Udall in the Albuquerque area.

In Texas, Lloyd Bentsen, the losing Democratic vice-presidential candidate, was consoled by his easy reelection to the US Senate. Mr. Bentsen's coattails are credited with increasing the Democrats' share of the 27-seat Texas congressional delegation by two, to a 19 to 8 margin. Incumbent Republican Mac Sweeney lost to Greg Laughlin, and Democrat Bill Sarpalius took the seat vacated by Bentsen's GOP challenger, Beau Boulter.

The Texas Supreme Court, tagged with a ``Justice for Sale'' sign and bad national press following well-publicized examples of financial relations between sitting justices and lawyers, takes on a different hue after mixed results Tuesday. Two heavyweight Democratic justices, both embroiled in financial controversy, were replaced by Republicans, while Democrats won back two seats from the GOP. The nine-member court now appears split along an activist-conservative fault.

In Utah, voters gave a weak plurality victory to Republican Gov. Norman Bangerter, at the same time turning down tax-rollback initiatives that both Mr. Bangerter and his Democratic opponent opposed. The state also returned US Sen. Orrin Hatch to Washington, as expected.

Wyoming Republican Sen. Malcolm Wallop won reelection by a razor-thin margin over state Sen. John Vinich.

There were no statewide races in Colorado, Idaho, and Oklahoma.

The Pacific West

Incumbency prevailed in the Pacific states.

From US Senate contests to governorships and congressional races, current officeholders retained their seats. In the sole exception to this political holding pattern, Oregon Democrat Mike Kopetski appears to have defeated four-term Republican incumbent Denny Smith in the state's Fifth Congressional District.

In open seats, where no incumbent was running, Republicans got the better of Democrats on the West Coast - even in states that gave the nod to Michael Dukakis at the top of the ticket.

In Washington, for instance, moderate Republican Slade Gorton edged out US Rep. Mike Lowry, a Democrat, in one of the nation's most closely fought US Senate races. For Mr. Gorton, the victory is twice as sweet after a bitter 1986 defeat in which he lost his Senate seat to Democrat Brock Adams.

Further, in an open congressional seat in California's Silicon Valley, the GOP's Tom Campbell chalked up a win over Democrat Anna Eshoo. In one of the bright spots for Democratic newcomers in Pacific states, Jolene Unsoeld won an open congressional seat in southwest Washington - by fewer than 2,000 votes - over GOP challenger Bill Wight.

Megastate California lined up solidly in the Republican column for the top offices - from George Bush (51 percent to Mr. Dukakis's 49 percent) to US Sen. Pete Wilson (54 percent to Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy's 46 percent). In another Republican triumph, seven-term incumbent US Rep. Robert Lagomarsino fought off a challenge by Democratic state Sen. Gary K. Hart in the Pacific-paradise district that includes Santa Barbara.

On the state level legislatures apparently are tilting Democratic. In California, Democrats will control both the state Senate and Assembly, but it is still uncertain if flamboyant Assembly Speaker Willie Brown will be able to hold onto his job due to dissatisfaction in his ranks.

In Washington, with Democratic Gov. Booth Gardner getting the nod for a second term, Democrats are hoping to wrap up the state leadership. To do so, they will have to wrest control of the state senate from the GOP, but at press time several races were too close to call. Oregon Democrats will again lead the state legislature, retaining a narrow margin in the House.

Elsewhere, Democratic US Sen. Spark Matsunaga breezed to reelection against GOP challenger Maria Hustace in heavily Democratic Hawaii. In marked contrast Republican-leaning Alaska will send the GOP's US Rep. Don Young back to Congress for a ninth term.

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