Weld beats Sliber; Democrats gain seats
By Brian Rosenberg
Massachusetts voters elected Republican William F. Weld governor over Democrat John R. Silber, and defeated the controversial tax rollback referendum, Question 3, in Tuesday's election.
In midterm congressional races, the Democrats picked up one seat in the Senate to increase their majority to 56-44, and eight seats in the House of Representatives.
This year's elections have been viewed as a referendum for change, though not as strong as some had predicted. Many incumbents remained, despite nationwide voter dissatisfaction with the status quo.
The Republican ticket of Weld with Paul Cellucci for lieutenant governor defeated the Silber and Marjorie Clapprood team by a vote of 1,174,916 (52 percent) to 1,098,022 (48 percent), with all but one of the 2,138 precincts reporting.
Governor-elect Weld, the first Republican to be elected governor of Massachusetts in 16 years, resolved to repeal part of the $1.2 billion revenue package passed over the summer. Weld said he believed voters wanted a leaner state government. He argued that cutting the sales tax on services would only cost the state government $71 million.
Weld's campaign benefited from voter mistrust of his opponent, who is president of Boston University. Election night polls indicated that as many as half of the voters who chose Weld did so to prevent Silber from being elected. Silber had been noted for his heavy-handed style and controversial remarks during the campaign.
Question 3 soundly defeated;
Kerry beats Rappaport
Question 3, a proposal by the Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) to cut state taxes by $2.1 billion, was defeated by a vote of 1,394,173 (60 percent) to 933,159 (40 percent), with all but one precinct reporting.
Of the remaining five initiatives on Tuesday's ballot, four were voted in: Question 1, a proposal to eliminate the state's decennial census; Question 4, a proposal to ease requirements for political parties to gain recognition; Question 5, a proposal to require 40 percent of all state tax revenue to be returned to cities and towns; and the purely advisory Question 6, which asked if
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television stations should be required to offer free air time to candidates for office.
Question 2, a proposal to severely limit the state's ability
to use outside consultants, and Question 3 were the only initiatives defeated.
In the race for one of Massachusetts' US Senate seats, Democratic incumbent John F. Kerry defeated challenger Jim Rappaport by a vote of 1,319,375 (57 percent) to 992,875 (43 percent). The campaign was marked by strong negative advertisements and a lack of focus on substantive issues, many observers agreed.
National election results
Across the nation, voters in 14 states elected governors of a different party affiliation. Seven governors changed from Republican to Democrat, five from Democrat to Republican, and two to independent.
Voters in Alaska and Connecticut elected independent candidates to those states' chief executive positions. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. became the first independent governor of Connecticut since 1851. Walter J. Hickel, Alaska's governor-elect, had previously been governor of the state as a Republican from 1966 to 1968.
Democrat Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas in an extremely close race. Her margin of victory was roughly 100,000 votes out of 3.7 million cast.
Overall, the Democrats gained one Senate seat and eight seats in the House of Representatives.
In another significant race, Republican Jesse A. Helms retained his Senate seat, defeating Harvey B. Gantt MCP '70, 53 to 47 percent. Helms, who is known for his staunch conservatism, criticized Gantt's support for job quotas which benefit minorities. Gantt would have been the first black senator from North Carolina.
Senator Bill Bradley, who has been viewed as a potential future Democratic candidate for president, barely retained his New Jersey seat against a little-
known challenger, Christine T. Whitman. Bradley outspent his opponent 40-1.
Unofficial results indicate that Newt P. Gingrich has retained his Georgia congressional seat by a margin as narrow as 980 votes out of nearly 156,000 cast. Gingrich is the Republican Party whip in the House of Representatives. His opponent, David Worley, refused to concede the election and said he would demand a recount.
Former Washington, DC, Mayor Marion S. Barry was soundly defeated in his bid for an at-large seat on the City Council. One of his leading rivals, Sharon Pratt Dixon, replaced him as mayor. Barry was recently convicted on drug possession charges. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was elected "shadow senator" for the district.
Overall, national voter turnout was low, with only a third of eligible voters casting a ballot. Turnout in Massachusetts, however, was exceptionally high.