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Rothenberg One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.

Anti-Abortion Activist Randall Terry Runs For Congress In N.Y.

And in North Carolina, Senate primary could turn on TV spots

By Stuart Rothenberg

New York State Republicans still haven't gotten used to the idea that Democrat Maurice Hinchey represents the politically marginal 26th C.D. But while the GOP hopes finally to knock off the Democrat in November, Republicans face a nasty ideological primary that features one of the most controversial GOP congressional hopefuls of the '98 election cycle: Randall Terry. And it isn't clear whether the party will be able to recover enough from its September primary feud to threaten Hinchey.

 Rothenberg's 1998 Senate Ratings

New York's 26th C.D. stretches from the Hudson Valley region, which includes the city of Kingston, north and west past Binghamton all the way to Ithaca. Bill Clinton carried the district by 10 points in 1992, but he drew a clear majority, 51-35 percent, four years later in easily beating Bob Dole. Still, the district is competitive, and the Republican congressional nominee in 1994, Bob Moppert, came within 1,250 votes of beating Hinchey in what admittedly was a very good Republican year.

The GOP primary pits veteran pro-life activist Terry against businessman Bud Walker.

Terry founded Operation Rescue, the pro-life group that took rather extreme steps to stop abortions, in 1987, and went on to be active in other social issue conservative groups, including the Christian Defense Coalition. He now hosts a daily national radio program and publishes books dealing with history and with contemporary issues.

Walker, who ran for a time last cycle but dropped out of the race in favor of Sue Wittig when it became clear that the Conservative Party would support Wittig and the anti-Hinchey vote would be fractured, owns radio stations and is involved in the family apple orchard/apple cider mill business.

Terry has raised more than $325,000 but has little money in the bank after airing $60,000 in TV spots and producing thousands of copies of a videotape, entitled "Freedom," for his campaign. He would get rid of most entitlements if it meant also eliminating the federal income taxes and FICA, and would disband any government agency and department that "is not in the Constitution." He calls his main primary opponent, Bud Walker, "Hinchey Light."

Walker is clearly the "moderate" in the race, not only because he supports legal abortion during the first two trimesters but also because he sees a role for government and is more cautious about things like school choice. However, he also supports a partial-birth abortion ban, favors repealing the assault weapons ban and, unlike Terry, supports fast-track trade authority for the president.

A third candidate in the race, attorney Doug Drazen, hasn't been a factor so far.

Terry hopes he can motivate conservatives, and portray Walker and Hinchey as defenders of the establishment, tax-and-spenders and advocates of abortion. But Walker portrays Terry as an extremist and argues that many of the pro-life activist's public statements exclude him as a serious candidate.

The winner of the GOP nomination will face Hinchey, who raised close to $1 million for his 1996 race and won't have a serious primary and will be able to husband his resources for the fall. But his record -- far more liberal than his district -- should make him a GOP target every two years until he either gives up the seat or is defeated.

N.C. Senate primary could turn on TV spots

The North Carolina Democratic primary has entered a new stage now that attorney John Edwards has started to spend some of his millions on TV spots. And although an early poll done for former University of North Carolina lobbyist D.G. Martin shows him ahead of both Edwards and former Charlotte city councilwoman Ella Scarborough, Edwards should blow past his primary opponents after a few weeks of television advertising.

Edwards, who is wealthy, good looking and drawing support from most of the allies of Gov. Jim Hunt, has already started to line up endorsements from organized labor.

But Scarborough hopes to do well among liberals and the African-American community, and Martin hopes his name recognition from previous congressional races and solid reputation will help him overcome whatever financial advantage Edwards will have. Martin and Scarborough are hoping to do well enough to keep Edwards under 40 percent of the vote, thereby forcing a runoff.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R), who continues to raise money and is generally regarded as the favorite for November. But Democrats and Republicans see this race as one of the few chances for the Democrats to knock off a GOP incumbent, so both parties will be extremely active in the state.

In Other News

Tuesday March 24, 1998

Lewinsky Judge Meets With Lawyers
Clinton Expresses Shock Over Arkansas Shootings
"Inside Politics" Interview: Rep. Bob Livingston
FEC Upholds Excluding Perot From '96 Debates

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