Political novice Sharon Pratt Dixon scored an upset victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary to nominate a successor to Mayor Marion Barry, and Jesse Jackson gained the party’s backing to become a “shadow senator” for the nation’s capital.
“It looks wonderful,” Dixon told supporters.
With all 140 precincts reporting, Dixon defeated John Ray, the front-runner through much of the campaign, and mayoral hopefuls Charlene Drew Jarvis, David A. Clarke and Walter E. Fauntroy.
Former D.C. police chief Maurice T. Turner Jr., running unopposed, picked up the Republican nomination for mayor and will face Dixon in the Nov. 6 general election.
In other elections around the nation Tuesday, Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota turned back a challenge from his former commerce commissioner to win renomination, and former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham trailed in his bid to regain the office he lost through impeachment.
With surprising ease, Perpich defeated Mike Hatch, who tried to make an issue of the incumbent’s opposition to abortion rights. Jon Grunseth won the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Former Gov. Richard A. Snelling of Vermont won the Republican nomination for his old job and joined two Democrats--ex-Sen. John Durkin of New Hampshire and 85-year-old former Rep. John Dow of New York--on the comeback trail. Losing a bid to reclaim his old House seat was Democrat Edward Beard of Rhode Island.
In Arizona, Phoenix developer J. Fife Symington led Mecham in the race for the GOP nomination for governor. Former Mayor Terry Goddard of Phoenix, son of a former governor, won the Democratic nomination.
Most incumbents had an easy time.
Governors in New Hampshire, Maryland, Rhode Island and Wisconsin defeated primary opponents, as did Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.).
Rep. Roy Dyson of Maryland, under criticism for his close ties to defense contractors, defeated three Democratic primary challengers. Wayne Gilchrest, who barely lost to Dyson two years ago, emerged victorious from an eight-way Republican primary.
In the race for a non-voting Senate seat in the District of Columbia, Jackson had 56% of the ballots cast. It was his first time on any ballot other than in a presidential primary. The unofficial “shadow senator” post offers neither salary nor voting privileges in the Senate and was established to lobby Congress to grant statehood to the District of Columbia.
In the D.C. mayor’s race, Dixon, a lawyer and former vice president of the Potomac Electric Power Co. who was making her first bid for elective office, was expected to be a heavy favorite for election in November. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 9-1 margin in the district.
In New Hampshire, Durkin won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Gordon J. Humphrey. Rep. Robert C. Smith swept past lawyer Tom Christo to win the GOP nomination for Humphrey’s seat. Durkin, who lost his seat in 1980, was the last Democrat elected to the Senate from New Hampshire.
Humphrey, who announced he wanted to return to state politics after 12 years in Washington, defeated state Rep. Jack Sherburne in the GOP primary for a state Senate seat.
Ranking as the longest comeback of the night was Dow of New York, who last served in Congress in 1972. Dow defeated Sean O’Brien Strub, an acknowledged homosexual who included condom ads in his mailings. Dow will challenge GOP Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman.
Perpich, dubbed “Governor Goofy” by critics, received the Democrat-Farmer-Labor nomination for a third consecutive four-year term. Hatch, a supporter of abortion rights, contrasted his position with Perpich’s opposition to abortion and hoped to capitalize on voter desire for a change in governors.