Dole turns N.Y. primary into a rout Kansas senator calls result an affirmation of Republican unity

Only 3 were on ballot

Statewide 20% turnout appears to deliver 92 delegates to Dole

March 08, 1996|By Jules Witcover | Jules Witcover,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

NEW YORK -- Sen. Bob Dole surged on in his drive for the Republican presidential nomination here yesterday, routing his remaining rivals, Steve Forbes and Patrick J. Buchanan, with a possible sweep of all 93 delegates at stake in New York's primary.

In the year's first contest with only three candidates competing, delegates pledged to Mr. Dole were winning 63 percent of the vote, compared with 24 percent for Mr. Forbes' slates and 13 percent for Mr. Buchanan's, according to exit polls of 1,000 voters by Voter News Service, a cooperative of the Associated Press and the television networks.

"The sweep of New York is an overwhelming statement of Republican unity," Mr. Dole said in claiming victory. "We're a big party with many points of view, but we're united behind a single cause -- the urgent need to defeat Bill Clinton and return conservative leadership to the presidency of the United States of America."

Without mentioning his two major remaining rivals, Mr. Dole salutedtheir campaign messages.

"Our party opens its arms to all who join us in that cause, and I invite all in our party to rally under the Dole banner," he said.

"If you believe in economic growth, you have a home in this party. If you believe our country must return to the traditional family values that made us strong, you have a home in this campaign."

But Mr. Forbes, The multimillionaire magazine publisher, last night took credit for "changing the course of America."

"We're not going to withdraw from this campaign," he said. "I think I'm going to still win this nomination. But if we're going to get America going in the right direction, we must keep on the heat."

Speaking earlier in Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Buchanan told supporters: "We go to San Diego, we break the doors open to this party, and we take it over."

The former commentator turned aside suggestions that he might mount a third-party candidacy but warned that the movement for one was clearly forming.

"You see them at the rallies, I have people going along the fence saying, 'For heaven's sake, don't endorse that man, let's go third party,'" Mr. Buchanan said. "They're already departing. We gotta get 'em to hold on and vote Republican."

As expected, the state party organization here, led by Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, delivered for Mr. Dole among voters of all ages and political leanings in the state's 31 congressional districts, each of which elected three delegates. Nine more are to be picked later by the state party committee, controlled by Dole supporters.

The exit polls produced responses that squared with those in other states on key points. A widespread view was that Mr. Buchanan is "too extreme." There was only mixed support for the flat tax idea advanced by Mr. Forbes.

These attitudes helped Mr. Dole, but one other cast a long shadow over his prospects in November: Nearly half of Republican voters interviewed said they were dissatisfied with the choice of candidates.

The primary here pitted Mr. Dole's organizational strength and momentum after eight primary victories two days earlier against Mr. Forbes' money and TV ads and Mr. Buchanan's passionate but limited grass-roots support.

In a campaign sharply curtailed by legal ballot fights and the scant two-day window for campaigning here, Mr. Dole's advantages prevailed overwhelmingly.

Even as Mr. Forbes poured $1 million or more of his own money into another TV ad blitz, the primary election process, as orchestrated by the D'Amato forces, made it impossible for Mr. Forbes or Mr. Buchanan to compete effectively against the Senate majority leader from Kansas.

Mr. Forbes and allies were obliged to spend months and more than $1 million in legal costs to obtain a ballot position for their delegate slates in all 31 congressional districts.

Only last week, a federal court ruled that petition-gathering requirements, easy for party regulars to meet for Mr. Dole, posed unconstitutionally "undue burden" on Mr. Forbes and Mr. Buchanan, who got his slates on in 23 districts. Last night, Mr. Forbes congragulated his supporters for having achieved "truly a miracle" in getting on the ballot, "opening up and breaking up the political monopoly of New York."

Once ballot position was achieved, however, the ballots also favored Mr. Dole, because the names of delegate candidates appeared first and in larger type than the presidential candidates with whom they were affiliated.

Dole slates in most congressional districts bore the names of prominent local Republicans, more easily recognized by voters than were the little-known delegates for Mr. Forbes and Mr. Buchanan.

In addition, the brief two-day period for active campaigning reduced candidates' presence in this huge state essentially to flying drop-downs in upstate cities, where the bulk of Republican voters live.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.