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Chafee Wins in R.I. As 9 States, D.C .Vote

Tuesday, 12 September 2006 12:00 AM

Moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who has bucked President Bush on tax cuts and the war in Iraq, defeated a conservative challenger Tuesday in a contest crucial to the larger fight for control of Congress.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Chafee was declared the winner with 33,685 votes, or 53 percent, to Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey's 26,276 votes, or 46 percent.

Chafee, whose challenge was seen as the latest test of anti-incumbent sentiment and the polarization of politics, told supporters: "Our goal has always been to find the common ground for the common good."

The last big day of primaries before the November elections also brought intriguing Democratic contests for Senate in Maryland and a House seat in Minnesota. In all, nine states and the District of Columbia voted, with the other states including Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Wisconsin.

In New York, front-running Democrats swept aside primary challengers - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced an anti-war candidate in her re-election bid, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer crushed his opposition for the Democratic nod for governor, and Andrew Cuomo easily won the party nomination for attorney general.

In Rhode Island, the importance of holding onto a GOP Senate seat brought Laura Bush and the GOP establishment to campaign around Chafee - even though he was the only Republican to vote against the resolution to use force against Iraq and he opposed the president's tax cuts. Chafee did not even vote for Bush in 2004 - instead writing in his father, George H.W. Bush.

Polls show Chafee will still face a tough contest against Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse, a former attorney general. But if Chafee had lost, polls showed Whitehouse was almost assured a victory. Democrats are hopeful they can gain the six seats needed to win control in the Senate.

Chafee, 53, was appointed to the Senate in 1999 after his father, Sen. John Chafee, died in office. He won election the following year. Like his father, Chafee is an economic conservative and social moderate - a classic New England Republican whose more liberal views have drawn support from unaffiliated voters and some Democrats.

Rhode Island allows voters who are not registered with a party to cast ballots in either Republican or Democratic primaries, and on Tuesday, many of them gravitated toward Chafee.

A House race in Arizona for a seat left open by retiring moderate GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe also has drawn national money and interest. Eleven major-party candidates for the seat that stretches from Tucson to the Mexican border were entered in the party primaries.

National GOP leaders angered Republican candidates when they jumped into the race to support state Rep. Steve Huffman, a moderate who in a recent poll was trailing a former state lawmaker, Randy Graf, who is focused on halting illegal immigration.

Party officials have expressed concerns Graf may be too conservative to win the seat in November. The two leading Democratic contenders are former state legislator Gabrielle Giffords and former local television anchor Patty Weiss.

The winner will face GOP Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who - if he won - would be the lone black Republican in the Senate. He has nine rivals for the Republican nomination but is expected to win easily.

Judges extended voting hours in Baltimore and nearby Montgomery County by one hour because of problems that delayed the opening of some polling places. Officials said some election judges did not show up on time and others had trouble getting into the facilities.

In Minnesota, Democrats were picking among four candidates for a House seat in a district that includes Minneapolis. The party backed state legislator Keith Ellison, who would be Congress's first Muslim member if he won. But Ellison found himself in a tough, four-way battle.

In New York, Clinton beat challenger Jonathan Tasini with more than 80 percent of the vote. She will face former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer.

Spitzer defeated Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi with more than 80 percent of the vote. He will face GOP candidate John Faso, a former legislative leader, in the fall.

Former federal Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo - son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo - defeated Mark Green, the former New York City Public Advocate, to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general.



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Moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who has bucked President Bush on tax cuts and the war in Iraq, defeated a conservative challenger Tuesday in a contest crucial to the larger fight for control of Congress. With 98 percent of precincts reporting,...
Tuesday, 12 September 2006 12:00 AM
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