Primed for the fall

"Primed for the fall" Continued...

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

Mr. Forrester's target in November will be Sen. Robert Torricelli (D), the freshman incumbent who remains under an ethical cloud even though federal investigators recently wrapped up a case against him without filing any charges. Republicans haven't won a Senate race in New Jersey since 1972, but the free-spending Mr. Forrester vowed to break that pattern.

The news for conservatives was better in a closely watched House race. Retiring Rep. Marge Roukema, one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress, anointed state Sen. Gerald Cardinale as her successor. But conservative Assemblyman Scott Garrett, who twice challenged Ms. Roukema in earlier primaries, wouldn't go along with the coronation. He beat Mr. Cardinale and three other challengers for the right to face ophthalmologist Anne Sumers in the general election.

Though Mr. Cardinale insisted Mr. Garrett was too "extreme" for New Jersey voters, Mr. Garrett responded that "extreme" conservative Bret Schundler carried the district in his gubernatorial bid last year. National Democrats are sure to spend millions backing Ms. Sumers, who casts herself as the logical heir to the Roukema political tradition (fiscally moderate, socially liberal).

New Mexico While political heavyweight Bill Richardson scared off his opposition in the Democratic primary for governor, Republicans endured a tough and divisive campaign. In the end, John Sanchez, a 39-year-old, first-term state legislator, beat his better-known opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

But popular GOP Gov. Gary Johnson backed Mr. Bradley late in the race after becoming alarmed at the negative campaigning by the Sanchez camp. He now says he may not endorse Mr. Sanchez in the general election-a potentially crippling blow to Republicans' hopes in the state. Mr. Richardson, who served as both Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the UN during the Clinton administration, is a prodigious fundraiser, but the nomination of Mr. Sanchez may undercut his presumed base among the state's large Hispanic population.

In the race to succeed retiring 20-year veteran Rep. Joe Skeen (R), former state legislator Steve Pearce defeated steakhouse magnate Ed Tinsley by about 3,000 votes to win the GOP nod. To everyone's surprise, Mr. Skeen endorsed Mr. Tinsley early in the race, but that was not enough to help him overcome charges of carpetbagging. (Though Mr. Tinsley owns a ranch in the 2nd District, critics said his home was actually in Albuquerque, north of the district line.) Democrats also faced a tough primary, with state Sen. John Arthur Smith eking out a win over Las Cruces Mayor Reuben Smith. With the district trending more liberal in recent years, Democrats view the race as a top priority in their quest to win six seats nationwide.

South Dakota Two statewide political titans squared off for the GOP nomination to the House of Representatives, a political honor that's actually harder to win in this state than a Senate seat. (South Dakota gets two senators, like everyone else, but only one representative.) Former Sen. Larry Pressler was the frontrunner until Gov. Bill Janklow, limited to two terms in Pierre, made a late entry into the race. The quirky, outspoken governor took 55 percent of the vote, doubling Mr. Pressler's 27 percent share. He'll face attorney Stephanie Herseth, the heir to a statewide political dynasty, in another must-win open seat for the Republicans.


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