1st Black Nominated to Missouri Statewide Office in Senate Vote

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Rep. Alan Wheat became the first black person nominated to statewide office in Missouri on Tuesday, winning the Democratic nomination for the seat of retiring Sen. John C. Danforth. Former Gov. John Ashcroft easily captured the GOP nomination.

In Detroit, Democratic Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Government Operations Committee and the most senior black congressman, turned back his first serious primary challenge in 30 years.

With 89% of precincts reporting, Conyers had 32,980 votes or 50.8%, lawyer Melvin Hollowell had 18,558 votes or 28.6% and former city ombudsman Marie Farrell-Donaldson had 13,332 votes or 20.5%. Conyers, who has lost two campaigns for mayor of Detroit, was criticized by both his opponents for missing nearly one-third of House votes last year.

Michigan also had a Senate primary, for the seat of Democratic Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr., whose decision not to seek a fourth six-year term drew a crowded field.


Races for governor were on the ballot in Michigan, where GOP Gov. John Engler is seeking a second term in the fall, and Kansas, where Democratic Gov. Joan Finney is stepping down after one term.

In Missouri, Wheat, a six-term congressman, fended off a strong challenge from Jackson County Executive Marsha Murphy for the Democratic Senate nomination. The Republican Danforth is retiring after three terms from the seat once held by Harry S. Truman to devote full time to the Episcopal church.

With 95% of precincts reporting, Wheat had 203,801 votes, or 41%, to Murphy’s 192,285 votes, or 38%. On the GOP side, Ashcroft, a former two-term governor, swamped his four rivals with 83% of the vote.

In all, 34 Senate seats are on ballots this year.


In Kansas’ gubernatorial race, six-term Rep. Jim Slattery defeated four other Democrats. Kansas Secretary of State Bill Graves beat five rivals for the GOP nomination.

In Michigan, state Sen. Debbie Stabenow and former Rep. Howard Wolpe were in a close race for the right to challenge Engler, who had no primary opposition.