Tuesday's top 10: the nation's most significant election contests ELECTIONS

November 04, 1990|By SUN GRAPHICS

OREGON---Republican Mark Hatfield, a 24-year Senate incumbent, got caught between growing environmental concern and his longtime role in stimulating the timber industry by overcutting public lands. But political novice Harry Lonsdale, amillionaire who ran to save the trees, may have peaked too soon.

CALIFORNIA---In a high-stakes gubernatorial race (control of the process in drawing seven new House districts next year) with a hefty price tag ($35 million, costliest in the nation), Democrat Dianne Feinstein has pushed quality-of-life and tax fairness issues, and Republican Pete Wilson has stressed fighting crime and tight-fisted management. Voters are split, but the GOP has the edge at a tight, close finish.

IOWA---Senate race is referendum on abortion, pitting incumbent abortion-rights Democrat Tom Harkin against Tom Tauke, a bright young Republican congressman opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Iowans have never re-elected a Democratic senator, but Harkin is a slight favorite to make history, thanks to backing of abortion-rights Republicans.

HAWAII---The bst chance for a GOP pickup of a Democratic Senate seat is the tug-of-war between the state's congressional districts: Honolulu Democrat Daniel K. Akaka, appointed to replace the late Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga, versus Republican Patricia Saiki, whose constituency includes neighbor islands. The key may be defection of th usually Democratic Japanese-American vote to Japanese-American GOP candidate.

MINNESOTA---Revelation of Republican gubernatorial nominee Jon Grunseth's extramarital affair forced him to quit the race and threw state politics in an uproar. Fallout has hit incumbent Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, already facing an unexpectedly tough challenge from liberal college professor Paul Wellstone, a former Jesse Jackson state chairman who has played on anti-incumbent mood.

TERM LIMIT---In a major test of anti-politics sentiment, a statewide drive to restrict terms of members of California's legislature could be the next national political trend to get a big boost from Golden State voters.Depending on how competing propositions fare, legislators could face a lifetime limit of six years in the Assembly, staff trims and a punitive cut in retirement benefits.

NORTH CARLINA---Black Democratic challenger Harvey Gantt is running as unabashed liberal, stressing education and environment, against Republican Jesse Helms, the Senate's leading conservative. But Helms' negative TV ads attacking Gantt on racially changed job quota isue may have hurt the Democrat in recent days. Late polls disagree on who's ahead, with the out come likely to turn on whether Helms can fire up his white base.

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