Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oregon Voters Witness End of Two Political Eras SENATE CONTESTS IN 2 STATES

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oregon Voters Witness End of Two Political Eras SENATE CONTESTS IN 2 STATES

Article excerpt

THIS week's special primary election to fill Bob Packwood's US Senate seat marks the end of an era and the beginning of what could be the next century's way of voting.

The forced departure of Mr. Packwood due to ethical lapses, together with the retirement of fellow Republican Mark Hatfield, actually ends two eras in Pacific Northwest politics.

One is the loss of regional clout as two senior senators (who headed tax-writing and spending committees) follow last year's departure of House Speaker Tom Foley (D) of Washington and before that such luminaries as Sens. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D) and Warren Magnuson (D) from Washington State.

The other era apparently drawing to a close here is one in which relatively liberal Republicans (and mavericks from both parties) have won bipartisan support year after year.

According to observers, Tuesday's election reveals the following:

*There's now a clear choice between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat, both of whom will have to fight for the moderate middle-ground inhabited by most of the state's party members, as well as its independents.

*The nation's first vote-by-mail for federal office appears to be a big success in terms of turnout, cost, and lack of problems.

*And campaign money becomes even more important with "election day" spread over several weeks. At the same time, there seems to be less chance for focused, last-minute negative campaigning with the new mail-in ballot voting schedule.

Winning the Republican Party primary was state Senate President Gordon Smith. Mr. Smith, the wealthy owner of his family's frozen-food business, easily beat State Superintendent of Public Instruction Norma Paulus.

Ms. Paulus, a well-known moderate who favored abortion rights, backed a state sales tax, and opposed conservative efforts to ban gay-rights measures, was trounced. Smith, on the other hand, wants to limit abortion practices, favors a balanced-budget amendment, and accepted the endorsement of the Oregon Citizens Alliance - an organization aligned with the Christian Coalition that has proposed several ballot measures designed to prevent "special rights" for homosexuals. …

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