Facebook Twitter



The 1994 election season began in earnest Wednesday with a new Brown in the spotlight in California and Democratic senators in the headlights of Republicans from coast to coast.

On the busiest primary night of the year so far, South Dakota Gov. Walter Miller was ousted by GOP voters Tuesday and governors in Iowa and New Mexico survived close calls.Kathleen Brown convincingly won California's Democratic gubernatorial primary, throwing her into a fall race against Republican incumbent Pete Wilson, who defeated millionaire Ron Unz in the GOP primary.

In victory remarks, Brown called for a return to California's "golden era," a reference that could be interpreted as pointing to the two-term governorship of her father, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, from 1959-67. She made no reference to her brother, Jerry, who was governor from 1975-83.

In Senate races, Republicans in three states picked challengers for Democrats who are considered vulnerable, among them California's Dianne Feinstein and New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg.

Democrats picked opponents for Republican Sens. Conrad Burns of Montana and Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Feinstein, who brushed aside token opposition, will face Rep. Michael Huffington in a millionaires' marathon that promises to be the costliest in Senate history.

Huffington, a Texas oilman who first registered to vote in California only three years ago, spent at least $6.7 million in defeating former Rep. Bill Dannemeyer by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in the GOP primary.

He immediately cast himself as the outsider. "Dianne Feinstein said government is her life," Huffington told supporters. "Well, maybe it's time for her to get a life."

Feinstein spent election day in Washington and declined comment on the results.

- In New Jersey, Lautenberg easily defeated two primary opponents but is considered beatable this fall. State Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian won handily in the GOP primary and opened fire on "our silent senator who has made no serious effort to cut spending or combat violent crime."

Republicans in New Mexico picked former Undersecretary of Defense Colin McMillan to challenge Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat who was unopposed and is considered vulnerable. McMillan grabbed 73 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

- In Montana, attorney Jack Mudd easily beat former Sen. John Melcher in the Democratic primary and will challenge Burns in November.

Burns is considered vulnerable; Mississippi's Lott is considered safe for the Republicans this year. Lott crushed two little-known challengers and will face the winner of a June 28 runoff between two Democrats.

In general, incumbents fared surprisingly well, especially compared with primaries two years ago at the height of anti-incumbency fever. No members of Congress lost their primary races Tuesday.

- South Dakota: The biggest exception was Miller in South Dakota, who was trounced by former Gov. Bill Janklow, a man who could easily out-incumbent the incumbent. Miller inherited the governor's job only last year when Gov. George Mickelson was killed in a plane crash.

Janklow won by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent and will face Democrat Jim Beddow, a former university president, in the fall.

- New Mexico: Although they won, incumbency was hardly a safe haven for Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa or Bruce King of New Mexico.

King, who has served as governor longer than any other person in New Mexico, claimed a narrow, 39 percent to 36 percent victory over Lt. Gov. Casey Luna in the Democratic primary. He will face Gary Johnson, a millionaire construction contractor and political newcomer who narrowly won a five-way Republican race.

- In Iowa, Branstad barely staved off a Republican mutiny led by Rep. Fred Grandy, who played purser Gopher Smith on television's "Love Boat." Grandy captured 48 percent of the vote to Branstad's 52 percent, earning him the governor's respect as "the toughest, most articulate, most attractive opponent that I have ever run against."

Branstad now faces state Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, who easily won her Democratic primary.

- Alabama Gov. Jim Folsom won the right to seek a full term by defeating Paul Hubbert, a teachers union leader, in the Democratic primary. Folsom was elevated from lieutenant governor last year when GOP Gov. Guy Hunt was removed from office because of a conviction on ethics charges.

Alabama Republicans will hold a June 28 runoff, with former Democratic Gov. Fob James one of two GOP candidates.