Robert Abrams, New York's attorney general, claimed victory Wednesday in a too-close-to-call
battle with Geraldine Ferraro for the Democratic nomination to oppose Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. Two congressmen lost, bringing to a record 19 the number of House incumbents ousted in this season of voter discontent.Democratic state Sen. Patty Murray of Washington set a record of a different sort, becoming the 11th woman nominated this year for a U.S. Senate seat.
In other highlights Tuesday:
- Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry launched a comeback, winning nomination for a City Council seat. "This is a victory for the people," declared the man who went to prison for a 1990 drug conviction.
- First-term Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun survived a scare in a Democratic primary from an opponent who criticized his handling of the state's banking crisis. He will face GOP nominee Elizabeth Leonard, a political newcomer.
Sundlun had 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for former three-term Warwick Mayor Francis X. Flaherty.
The congressmen who put 1992 into the record book were Democrats Chester Atkins of Massachusetts, who wrote 127 bad checks on the House bank, and Stephen Solarz of New York, with 743 overdrafts. Atkins lost to former prosecutor Martin Meehan; Solarz lost to Nydia Velazquez in a new, mostly Hispanic district.
The biggest race of the night turned out to be the closest. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Abrams had 410,402 votes or 37 percent; Ferraro had 399,410 votes or 36 percent; civil rights activist Al Sharpton had 161,623 votes or 15 percent; and New York City Comptroller Liz Holtzman had 140,813 votes or 13 percent.
"We did it," Abrams told cheering supporters early Wednesday. "We have an insurmountable lead and we have won."
But Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee who was attempting a comeback, was not conceding. "It's a little bit tense," she said late Tuesday. "It's been a roller coaster, but we're all enjoying the see-saw."
D'Amato, a two-term senator who has been weakened by allegations of ethical misconduct, said Wednesday that he expected Abrams to be his challenger. He described Abrams as "a hopelessly liberal candidate" and warned, "I'm not going to let him just pour manure all over me."
Marcia Watson of the state Board of Elections said she didn't know how many absentee ballots were still uncounted. She said county election boards had nine days to conduct a canvass, meaning the race could be left hanging into next week.
In other primary results:
- Several Democratic congressmen survived close calls, including Mike Synar of Oklahoma; Joseph Early, Gerry Studds and Nicholas Mavroules in Massachusetts; and Gerry Sikorski in Minnesota. Mavroules is under federal indictment for extortion.
- Rep. Ted Weiss, who died of heart disease on Monday, defeated a fringe candidate to win the Democratic nomination for another term in New York City. That allows party leaders to pick their own candidate - and Solarz seemed a possible choice.
- Voters in Washington state set up a Senate contest between Murray and Republican Rep. Rod Chandler. Democrat Brock Adams is retiring after a single term following allegations of sexual harassment, which he denies.
- Washington also is electing a governor to replace retiring Democrat Booth Gardner. Former Rep. Mike Lowry won the Democratic primary and will face state Attorney General Ken Eikenberry.