Democrat Jill Long scored a narrow victory Tuesday over Republican Dan Heath in a special election for the House seat that launched the political career of Vice President Dan Quayle.
Long received 65,160 votes, or 51%, to 63,388 votes, or 49%, for Heath. She will be the first Democrat to represent northeast Indiana’s 4th Congressional District since Quayle won the 1976 congressional election.
It was the third try for a Washington political office by Long, 37, who lost a bid for the seat last November by nearly 50,000 votes and lost the 1986 Senate election to Quayle.
Thundershowers, which had been predicted for the afternoon and which Democrats had feared would reduce turnout among blue-collar voters casting ballots after factory shift changes, failed to materialize Tuesday.
Low Turnout Predicted
With voting predicted to dip as low as 30% among registered voters, turnout efforts were more important than usual, party workers on both sides said.
The 4th District seat was vacated in January by Republican incumbent Dan Coats, who resigned to take the Senate seat Quayle occupied before becoming vice president.
Long will serve out the remainder of Coats’ term, which runs through 1990.
Abortion was the most emotional issue raised during the campaign. Long said she opposed government involvement and Heath said all abortions should be illegal, including those in cases of rape and incest.
Heath also charged Long with running “the dirtiest campaign in northeastern Indiana history” with aggressive television commercials.
Heath, 36, the former safety director in Ft. Wayne, was seeking his first elected office. He also worked as chief of staff for Ft. Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, as a district representative for Coats in 1985-87 and as an administrative aide to Lt. Gov. John Mutz in 1983-84.
Won by Quayle in ’76
District voters sent Quayle to Washington as a 28-year-old congressman in 1976. Quayle won reelection in 1978, then gave up the seat in a successful effort to defeat three-term Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh.
Quayle and First Lady Barbara Bush campaigned earlier for the Republican candidate, and former Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee campaigned for the Democrat.
County election administrators decided to use paper ballots rather than voting machines or computer ballots to cut costs in an election that no one had budgeted. Allen County officials estimated that paper ballots would save $20,000.
However, campaign officials in both camps said they believed the ballots would slow the vote count.