MARYLAND'S American Joe Miedusiewski is one of the most...

salmagundi

March 21, 1994

MARYLAND'S American Joe Miedusiewski is one of the most attractive names ever to appear on an election day ballot. But Illinois can claim one that is even better in its appeal to voter sentiment these days.

We thought of that candidate, who was born Elias R. Zenkich in Bosnia, the other day as we followed the primary returns from Illinois.

As you know, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the powerful chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee, won renomination in a race thought to be close, and in which, in fact, he got barely 50 percent of the Democratic vote.

The Democratic nomination in Chicago is, as they used to say in the one-party South, "tantamount to victory." In years past Representative Rostenkowski routinely rolled up 75-80 percent of the vote against Republican opponents in general elections.

Until last time. In 1992 Mr. Zenkich ran against him. He is a wealthy high tech engineer without much political background. JTC But he was savvy enough to make his name more appealing. He had it legally changed to Elias R. Non-Incumbent Zenkich.

And though he spent only $83,293 on his campaign, and Representative Rostenkowski spent $1,455,455, the non-incumbent held the incumbent to a puny, by Chicago standards, 57 percent of the vote.

Mr. Zenkich will not be Rosty's opponent this November. He lost in his party's March 15 primary to a Republican with an even more appealing name -- given the season: Michael Patrick Flanagan.

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