CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Look at Results from Governor's Races Around Country
Aired November 6, 2002 - 01:25 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now let's talk some more about these governors' races, particularly this big surprise in Georgia, with a couple of people who are with us this evening who have been watching this quite closely themselves.
Ralph Reed, an analyst and political activist himself and who has been quite active in trying to get more and more Republicans elected across the country -- you see him there on the left.
And also joining us is Cynthia Tucker with the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," who, of course, has been watching this race very closely.
And I must say, first of all, congratulations to you and your team, Ralph Reed. You've got to be very happy about the results you've seen so far this evening.
RALPH REED, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, we really are. We're thrilled by Sonny Perdue's victory, thrilled that Saxby Chambliss was able to win a U.S. Senate seat. It was critical. We've picked up two and potentially three congressional seats -- one is too close to call. Defeating the Democrat speaker of the House, defeated the Democrat state Senate majority leader, and of course, we've had a great night across the board nationally, and we've won the U.S. Senate back.
So, the person who I think deserves the most credit for tonight's victory is the president of the United States.
HARRIS: Yes, and we've heard that quite often throughout the evening.
REED: He gave us a new brand of leadership to be associated with. It was conservative, but also compassionate. It was principled, but also inclusive. It made clear that we would leave no child behind and made it clear that our party was a new and different party.
And the reason why we really won tonight, to be honest with you, is because our candidates associated themselves with that style of leadership.
HARRIS: Cynthia, how about that? Let me ask you about what happened here, particularly with these two races that Ralph must mentioned here with Saxby Chambliss there as we saw there defeating Max Cleland for the Senate seat here in Georgia, another big surprise here today, as well as Sonny Perdue beating Roy Barnes here for the governor's seat here. What does this say about either these candidates or about the Democratic Party this evening?
CYNTHIA TUCKER, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, if you look across the state, quite frankly, Leon, as Ralph just said, the Republicans have had a very big night in Georgia. They've had a big night across the nation. They've had an especially big night here in Georgia.
And I think if you went state to state, Georgia is the state where the biggest upsets took place.
The Saxby Chambliss win, quite frankly, isn't that big a surprise.
HARRIS: Why not?
TUCKER: Max Cleland won six years ago by a very narrow margin, about 28,000 votes. The Republican National Committee honed in on that race very early, thinking that was weak. They poured a lot of money into Chambliss' race. And obviously, President Bush paid a lot of attention to it.
The much bigger surprise is Sonny Perdue's win over Roy Barnes. No one saw that coming, with the possible exception of Ralph Reed, who's sitting next to me tonight. I don't think even Sonny Perdue expected that.
And I think, while the president deserves some of the credit -- his popularity is enormous in Georgia and he started to spay some attention to Sonny Perdue's race later on -- I think there were also some particular issues here in the state. And maybe Georgia voters were just tiered of the predominant, good-ole-boy leadership coming from the Democratic Party.
HARRIS: Let's talk about the Democratic Party from your perspective. Ralph Reid, what does it say to you about the Democratic Party?
RALPH REED, GOP STRATEGIST: I think they were hurt by a number of things. I think they were hurt by the fact, in the case of Max Cleland, he had voted 11 times against the president on homeland security, had voted 22 times to delay or gut his tax cut, had cast a lot of votes that were out of touch with Georgia values, and were in opposition to the president.
And I wouldn't disagree with Cynthia. It's not as big a surprise at the governor's race. What could be? We haven't elected a Republican governor in Georgia in 135 years.
But I would make this point: Saxby Chambliss, 90 days ago, trailed Max Cleland by 15 to 20 points. And Max Cleland had never lost a political campaign in his career. So it was a big victory.
I think in the governor's race and the other state legislative races, we didn't just say what we were against. We said what we were for. We unveiled the declaration of a new Georgia. It was an eight- point legislative program that included lower taxes, education reform, fiscal discipline, ethics reform. We have very lax ethics laws here in Georgia.
And, you know, we've been real good at saying what we didn't like. We haven't been as good at offering a positive vision. Sonny Perdue and our other candidates did that.
Final thing is this: George W. Bush came here on Saturday. He came not to one city, but two. He spent six hours in Georgia. We believe that provided the last three to five points to get these and other candidates across the finish line.
HARRIS: And that would seem to pretty much confirm that there is something of a coattail effect here with George W. Bush and the states he's been campaigning in in the last few days. And, Cynthia, I'm wondering if I detected a bit of hesitancy on your part to concede that.
TUCKER: No, no, no. I think that you have to give the president a lot of credit for the way Republicans have done across the nation. I think he's turned back the conventional wisdom, that perhaps presidential coattails aren't that long. He has tremendous popularity here in Georgia, and a surprising amount of popularity apparently across the nation.
I'd also think that there are some particular things in Georgia. And while Republicans in Georgia mostly ran positive campaigns, I think it has to be said that in the governors' race there was a divisive issue around the state flag, in which Roy Barnes was very courageous in going ahead and pushing the state legislature to change the flag.
Sonny Perdue, on the other hand, has kept saying that he would bring the issue back up again and throw it back to a state referendum. That will be very divisive for the state of Georgia. And Sonny Perdue will now have to figure out how to usher the state through that.
HARRIS: Let me ask you both quickly, if you could weigh in on this last question I have, because we've got to go. I wonder is, when you combine this nationwide coattail -- the coattail effect we may have seen this evening, is there any way this will be translated into a mandate for President Bush?
REED: I don't think there's going to be any question about it. I mean, the president of the United States put his political capital on the line, in effect nationalized these elections around the issues of his homeland security and economic agenda.
And the American people clearly rallied to his side. What we're watching tonight hasn't happened in the Republican Party since the Civil War, and has not happened for a president since 1934, when Franklin Delanor Roosevelt did it, and that is to, in effect, win two elections in a row. And to win them big.
And so, I think the president is going to see pretty quick action on some of these judicial nominations that have been held up. I think he will get a homeland security department. I think the Congress will make his tax cut permanent.
And I would just say this. I've been involved in this party for over a quarter of a century. And I've never seen a leader of our party, or our country, who provided a style of leadership, an integrity and clarity of vision, that rallied not only our own troops in an off-year election, but a lot of independent voters, as well.
HARRIS: Cynthia, quickly, if you can.
TUCKER: Oh, I would have to agree with Ralph on that. The president now has the mandate he did not have in 2000 when he was elected. He's clearly much more popular now than he was when he was elected. Much of that has to do with the aftermath of 9/11, and the way he's handled that issue.
He's now going to be able to push through a very conservative agenda and it remains to be seen whether that agenda is as popular as he is.
HARRIS: Cynthia Tucker, Ralph Reed, thank you very much. Appreciate you giving us some time this evening.
And I think we've only heard the beginning of all these historical references as to what happened tonight, and the historical perspective of it all. So stay with us. We'll have much more of the results still to come in for you this evening, as well as more analysis just ahead after a break. So don't go away.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of this election 2002. Leon and I will be with you throughout the night.
Now, the balance of power in the Senate has been decided. It will be a Republican Congress in total. There are still two states that we're waiting to hear from. One of those, Minnesota, which has gotten a lot of attention in the last week.
Right now, with 48 percent of the precincts reporting, Norm Coleman, the former mayor of St. Paul, is ahead with 50 percent. But this race is far from being called.
This is one of what we have called our CNN "Real Vote" races. To tell us more about that, we want to bring in our Candy Crowley, who's standing by in New York City.
Candy, good morning, I think it's safe to say.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. You know, Daryn, the simplest reason to tell you is, it's just too close to call. But you already knew that. I thought I'd show you a picture maybe worth all of my explanations here.
We want to go to the spatial logic program here, and show you Minnesota. OK, now, remember, Democrats, blue. The lighter the blue, the smaller the smaller the margin of the Democratic vote in that county. Same with the red, which is Republican.
What's interesting here is, that Walter Mondale, blue, is doing -- performing fairly strongly in rural areas in Minnesota -- here, here, down in here. For a Democrat, that's pretty darn good.
Now, you look at a Republican and what you see is that Norm Coleman is doing very well in the suburbs of Minneapolis, St. Paul, particularly here along the eastern border of Minnesota. That is great for Republicans.
So at the moment, they've sort of fought each other to a tie. Now, you know, hopefully it won't really be a tie and someone will eventually end up winning. But that's exactly why you have it that both of them are performing very well in areas that they weren't supposed to. So they're kind of still facing each other down and it's too close to call.
KAGAN: All right, well, I know you'll be tracking it for us and let us knew as soon as you're able.
We have people on the ground though, don't we?
HARRIS: That's right. Our Anderson Cooper has been following the action there in Minnesota since the debates. And he's still there this evening in St. Paul, Minnesota. He's got the latest for us now.
Hi, Anderson, what's the word?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, early morning to you, Leon. Just to jump on a little bit of what Candy said, I should point out that Mondale, you know, really was only campaigning for six days, or five full days. And he campaigned very heavily in the northeast. Really one of the few areas where he did campaign heavily. He went up to that whole Duluth area.
Should also point out that Norm Coleman was twice elected mayor of St. Paul. The first time, he was a Democrat. In fact, as late as 1996 he called himself a Clinton Democrat. '97, when he ran again and won mayor of St. Paul. He ran as a Republican. So, you know, he was really able to get a lot of Democrats to support him, even though he had switche parties, had become a Republican.
At this point, it is very late here, but still far too close to call. The crowds here at the Mondale camp are dwindling a little bit. They're getting a little energized, just because they know we're on the air right now. But it's been pretty somber for the last hour or so.
Mondale is in the hotel. We're at the Radisson in St. Paul. He's in one of the rooms upstairs. He arrived here several hours ago. He's been down to this room twice. He addressed the crowd once, has told people to stick with it, stay optimistic. He said, we have a good chance of winning this thing.
Norm Coleman has been, you know, viewing these results with his family in another hotel. He was working phone banks late into this afternoon.
Now, also, importantly, we've seen a lot -- the importance of George W. Bush and his support in races across the country. Should point out: George W. Bush was here on Sunday, had a big rally with Norm Coleman.
Day before that, Laura Bush was here. Day before that, the vice president was here. And on Monday, after the big debate with former Vice President Walter Mondale, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was here.
So he has had a lot of national Republican support. In fact, according to Norm Colman, it was President George W. Bush who convince him to enter this race in the first place. He said the president came to him, saw him out, asked him to get into the race, and he did that.
Of course, it is a very different case he's had to engage in in the last six days against Waler Mondale. He campaigned for 18 months against Paul Wellstone. That was a very close race. Of course, the death of Paul Wellstone, and his wife and two children and five others, changed everything. Walter Mondale entered the race just last Wednesday. And it's been quite a campaign so far.
Again, it's just too close to call. And it's 1:44 here in St. Paul, Minnesota -- Leon.
HARRIS: OK, which means you may have a longer night yet. All right, Anderson Cooper, much thanks.
KAGAN: Minnesota's not the only state having a late night. Also, South Dakota. This was a race that got so much attention, especially for its size, in terms of population.
This one also too close to call between the incumbent, Tim Johnson, and the challenger, John Thune. So much attention, not only from President Bush, who I think made a record of four visits to the state -- they're still amazed by that in South Dakota -- but also Tom Daschle, this being his state. I guess we could say now, the former majority leader, soon to be former majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
Let's bring in our senior political analysts Bill Schneider to look at this race in South Dakota.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: This was a hot race. So was Minnesota. And who would have dreamed that on election night, we'd end up saying, South Dakota, Minnesota, they're irrelevant. If the Democrats keep them, they still can't keep their majority in the United States Senate. That is remarkable.
South Dakota's important because it's Tom Daschle's state. And he's, of course, suffered a bad defeat. He will lose his position as majority leader of the Senate. His strategy, I think Democrats are going to call into question, of accommodation with Bush on Iraq, of not really taking a strong Democrat stand on the tax cut.
And now, if he loses -- and that's what's at stake here in this race -- if he loses this race, if Tim Johnson loses this race, it will be seen as a big setback for Tom Daschle, who might have had and may still have presidential aspirations. But you've got to say, they suffered a blow.
KAGAN: Yes, he'll be reassessing after tonight.
I want to look at another Senate race, and that's in North Carolina. This one not as big a surprise that it went the Republican way. There's a new Senator Dole on her way to Washington, and that would be Elizabeth Dole, wife of Senator Bob Dole. She beats Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff for President Clinton.
SCHNEIDER: Not a huge surprise that she won this, but it's an important win for Republican because she's a woman. Republicans have had problems with the gender gap because they've never really had big strength among women. Now, she's a showcase candidate and now a showcase senator for Republicans. She can appeal to women.
You know, you mentioned a record number of women are running for governor -- 10. Nine of them are Democrats. Ten women are running for the Senate. Eight of them are Democrats.
So for Elizabeth Dole to win this victory in North Carolina makes an important statement. And believe me, Republicans are going to put her on display wherever they can to show, hey, we've got women in the party, too, and they can win.
HARRIS: Let me have Stu Rothenberg help on this one. Because one of the surprises, at least to me, in that race -- was the margin. We had the margin there, was a double-digit one. Going into this race, not even a matter of 20 hours ago, we were looking at this as a tossup.
Is there any way to interpret what was going on with that?
STU ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: I think one of the things you can do is, you can compare this race to other Democratic races. And interestingly, Erskine Bowles got 45 percent of the vote. If you look back, Harvey Gantt, the Democratic Senate candidate against Jesse Helms, African-American, ran a couple of times. He got 46 and 47 percent. Erskine Bowles failed to get even that percentage. I think it was a poor showing.
If you look at his numbers in the polling over the past few weeks, he was stuck at 40, 41 percent of the vote. I think that turned out to be telling.
KAGAN: Also, historical landmark. 1996, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, running for president. Now both their wives in the U.S. Senate. They could be in the spouse's club, I guess, bill Clinton and Bob Dole.
SCHNEIDER: They may compete to become president of the spouse's club.
ROTHENBERG: And Elizabeth Dole competed for the president nomination against George W. Bush and now she joins the Senate as part of the Republican majority helping George W. Bush.
HARRIS: Let's go back to this voter turnout, particularly the minority voter turnout. You talked about that in North Carolina. We've seen candidates that were really counting on strong minority turnouts here in Georgia, Missouri. We didn't see, necessarily, these candidates do as strongly as perhaps they may have expected to do. Does that tell us anything about the minority turnout?
SCHNEIDER: It tells us the Democrats had trouble turning out their base. We believe, we don't have clear evidence yet, but in cities like Atlanta, Georgia, where Republicans did well. Baltimore, a big setback. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost the state of Maryland.
And Maryland elected its first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew. That had to be, you would expect, a light turnout of African- Americans in the city of Baltimore.
HARRIS: And from what I heard, I believe I heard Carol Linder reporting early this evening on the Jean Carnahan race, that Carnahan was basically brining in one out of three of the Democrat votes in St. Louis, which, to me would indicate, is one of the same weakness there with minority voters.
SCHNEIDER: I'm not certain that it was a weakness simply among minority voters. It might have been a broader weakness among Democrats. It might have been that they didn't turn out in large numbers. And, of course, most Africa-Americans and a lot of minority voters are Democrats.
I think there was a demoralization among Democrats, generally, which hit hard among minority voters.
KAGAN: Let's go ahead and look at one of the few races that was a bright spot for Democrats in the Senate tonight, and that is in Arkansas, where Mark Pryor is a pickup, and defeat the incumbent, Tim Hutchinson, who had some issues, I think, with some family matters.
HARRIS: But again, the margin error, I believe, is a bit wider than we thought going into this one because I believe -- Stu, once again, we have this one as a tossup coming in?
ROTHENBERG: I think that for many months, people thought that Tim Hutchinson was in serious trouble. But there was some chance that he could pull it out in the end. The margin was considerable. And this was the race, this was a Democratic race that they expected to win.
SCHNEIDER: You called this one of the few bright spots? This is the only bright spot for the Democrats. It's the only seat they gain. And I should mention, Mark Pryor had the advantage of a famous name. His father, David Pryor, was governor and senator.
And poor Tim Hutchinson. In a year when Republicans seemed to win everything, everywhere, particularly in the Senate, for an incumbent Republican senator to be defeated is a kind of special disgrace. KAGAN: This is the man who ran a lot on family values, and has an issue where he divorced his longtime wife and married a staffer. And now people who are subscribing to those values, I guess not very appreciative.
HARRIS: Well, there's another element there with the family names. Mark Pryor also stayed away from a famous name: Bill Clinton.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
HARRIS: Bill Clinton was there in that state to campaign and Mark Pryor just happened to be unavailable every time Bill Clinton came to town. Maybe that worked out for him.
KAGAN: We will be looking more at the balance of power and other races. Stay with us.
KAGAN: We're going live now to California, where Governor Gray Davis, speaking to his supporters after holding onto the seat. Let's listen in.
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: ... most inspirational speaker in the Davis campaign, my wonderful wife, Sharon Davis.
DAVIS: And I want to thank every elected official who's standing here tonight, all the members of the Democratic team that are doing very well, and hopefully they'll all win tonight. Let's give them a round of applause.
DAVIS: And I want to thank the teachers, the police officers, the firefighters, the paramedics, the building trades, working people, students, seniors, all of California.
I just received a phone call from Mr. Simon.
DAVIS: He congratulated us on our race and...
DAVIS: And wished us well. And I said that he did a lot better in his race than I did back in 1974, and I sent my very best wishes to he and his wife, Cindy. And he indicated, if he could be of any help in the future he was willing to do so> And I said, I might take him up on that.
So I thank Mr. Simon for running an aggressive race. I thank him for his call of concession, and I wish he and Cindy and their whole family the best. Let's give them a round of applause. (APPLAUSE)
KAGAN: And we're listening in to California Governor Gray Davis, accepting the concession of his challenger, Bill Simon.
Stu Rothenberg, let's bring you in here really quickly. Bill Simon -- clearly, he was expected to lose, but giving a much tougher race than a lot of people expected, even though Gray Davis was hardly the most popular man in California tonight.
ROTHENBERG: I think Simon was showing a reflection of the governor's weakness. The governor was not popular. Problems with the economy, questions about his fund-raising. Not personally likable, not a warm and caring human being -- I'm sure he's caring. And in this case, Bill Simon really took advantage of that.
KAGAN: And, just showing real quick, it looks like Bill Simon's giving his concession speech to his supporters right there.
HARRIS: Looks like he's heading out of the room, too, so we kind of missed that as well.
Anything else occur to you about that race? Because, come on, you're a Californian.
SCHNEIDER: Well, I'm a Californian, so is Daryn. And the thing that's noticeable is that while Gray Davis did win, so far he's not getting a majority of the vote. He's getting 47 percent. A Green Party candidate is getting 5 percent. So it looks like Californians reelected him with no great enthusiasm. It was a grudging reelection.
KAGAN: And this is a man, though, I think was hoping to use his second term as California governor to launch into bigger and better, perhaps.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. There was talk initially that he might want to use this as a springboard to the White House. And look, let's give him his due. He won reelection in a stat that's tough to win -- they usually do win reelection. But he's got a good job, and he's won reelection. Congratulations, let us say.
HARRIS: He gets four years to remake himself.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. That's a long time.
ROTHENBERG: You know, Bill, you mentioned that he was mentioned as a presidential candidate. The other Democratic governor who's often mentioned as a presidential contender: Ray Barnes of Georgia. He lost his.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
KAGAN: You can probably cross him off that list now.
ROTHENBERG: I think so. HARRIS: Well, let's check in and see how things -- what the mood is out in California. Our Rusty Dornin is standing by. I believe she's at the -- Simon campaign, is that where you're at, Rusty?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, folks, of course, are ecstatic here. We were thinking maybe it was going to be a long night when the numbers first started coming out, because they were in a dead heat. And there was a little bit of uncertainly here. Things were a little too close for comfort, here at the Davis camp.
As you know, Governor Davis raised $68 million in this campaign, which he was criticized for doing, for being obsessive raising money. And of course, newcomer Bill Simon just was an underdog from the very beginning, and really committed a few blunders at the beginning of the campaign and never could really regain his footing.
Folks here are ecstatic also, Leon, because it's very close to have it. Democrats in the rest of the country are not doing that well. In California, they've done great this evening. There could be a clean sweep of the statewide offices.
There was only one seat that's at a tie right now. But if they do that, that would be the first time since 1882 that the Democrats would have had a clean sweep of the statewide offices. So, people are very happy tonight. But as I said, there was some uncertainty there for a while -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right, Rusty. Rusty Dornin, reporting live for us from the famous campaign headquarters. A rather joyous scene there taking shape this evening.
Boy, you know, speaking of the money, I want to talk to you some more about that because Gray Davis I don't think I've seen or heard about before. He was spending money in the Republican primary, and that actually may have paid off for him.
SCHNEIDER: It did pay off, because he ran ads against the Republican who threatened him the most, former Los Angeles Mayor Dick Riordan. Riordan was defeated, so Davis picked his own opponent. And it turned out he picked very wisely.
KAGAN: Works out OK.
HARRIS: Because the polls show that Riordan probably would have won.
KAGAN: We are going to pick our own commercial break, which is right now. But stay with us. Much more, right at the top of the hour.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com