Ten Races to Watch
Stick a fork in 'em (they're done):
With voters itching to "throw the bums
out," no targets are more obvious than the
two parties' congressional leaders. House Speaker Tom Foley,
D-Wash., scraped by with just 55 percent of
the vote in 1992, then defied voters by
going to court to overturn the statewide term
limits they had just approved. Private polls say
that half his constituents want someone new. In
Georgia, Minority Leader-to-be Newt Gingrich's outsider shtick is
wearing thin after 16 years in office. "If
Gingrich is for term limits," asks his Democratic
challenger, "why is he running for a ninth
term?" Many voters are asking the same.
Just wait 'til Daddy gets here:
First, legendary drag racer
"Big Daddy" Don Garlits said he'd unseat the
Democratic freshwoman in Florida's third district. Then he
switched to run against the Democratic freshwoman in
the fifth district. (Garlits doesn't live in either
district.) Garlits says "white people in this country
are not the violent ones," proposes sending Haitian
refugees to Montana, and wants the government to
prosecute citizens who question America's greatness. The state
GOP chairman applauds Garlits for "expressing the anger
and frustration" of local voters.
Out of the cloakroom:
This spring, in a keynote address to
a gay rights dinner, Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis.,
referred openly to his male companion, prompting Rep.
Bob Dornan, R-Calif., to call him a "homo."
But if Gunderson wins re-election in his conservative
rural district, gay-bashers like Dornan will have a
hard time claiming to represent the GOP, much
less mainstream America.
Democrat Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky wrested
her suburban Philadelphia seat from the GOP in
a 50 percent to 49 percent squeaker in
1992. A year later, when she cast the
deciding vote to pass Clinton's tax/budget package, Republicans
chanted "Goodbye, Marjorie" on the House floor. The
GOP wants to make her race a referendum
on taxes, defeat her, and hoist her scalp
as a warning. But the state Republicans may
have blown it, renominating the same idiot she
beat in 1992.
Breaking the seat:
you thought Republicans would seize Congress, they've gone
back to killing each other. Last year, police
caught Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., in an awkward
position--with a hooker in his parked car. His
plea that he was ignorant of his date's
profession isn't washing with the Christian right. They're
running an Independent candidate against him, which will
almost certainly tip the election to the Democrats.
Talk about wrecking the family.
Kennedy's personal life may be back in order,
but his 32-year marriage to Massachusetts voters may
be on the rocks. Kennedy faces Republican Mitt
Romney, a Mormon family man whose TV ads
promise that he'll fight "the breakdown of the
moral fiber of our society." Hint, hint. National
GOP leaders smell blood and plan to throw
in an extra $540K to unseat Kennedy. But
if they succeed in liquidating their favorite fund-raising
bogeyman, it'll end up costing them a lot
In 1991, Harris Wofford's promise of
universal health coverage carried him to an upset
Democratic victory in a Pennsylvania Senate race. Three
years later, Wofford's Republican challenger is turning the
issue against him, warning middle-class voters that Wofford's
universal health plan would destroy medical quality. Meanwhile,
moderate Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., now running for
Senate, is getting hit from both sides. His
GOP opponent lambastes Cooper's conservative health reform bill
as an expensive government program, while liberal activists
call him an insurance industry stooge (which he
is). If Wofford or Cooper loses, health reform
may move from intensive care to the morgue.
Guess who's coming to dinner:
Two candidates in this
year's field have decent shots at becoming the
first black men elected to the Senate as
Democrats. Rep. Alan Wheat of Missouri has already
broken one color barrier by thrashing his white
Democratic rivals in the race for campaign money.
In Washington state, Ron Sims, a county councilman
from Seattle, has emerged as the Democratic front-runner
to take on GOP Sen. Slade Gorton. There
goes the neighborhood.
Surrender or Di:
Early on, Republican
Rep. Michael Huffington scored with his attacks on
California incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein's support of Clinton's
1993 tax/budget package. Feinstein responded by withdrawing as
a co-sponsor of Clinton's health care plan, demanding
the expulsion of illegal immigrant lawbreakers to jails
in their own countries, and touting her efforts
to help a local company sell arms to
Taiwan. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
When Hillary Clinton's brother Hugh Rodham
decided to run against Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla.,
it was leaked that Hillary feared he'd embarrass
the White House. Already, he's revealed that he
didn't vote in Bill Clinton's races while
in Arkansas and that he failed the bar
exam "a bunch of times." The state GOP
chair calls him "Billy Carter with a law
degree." At least Roger Clinton is off the
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