Former Governor Leads Vote in Missouri GOP Senate Primary

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Former Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft easily won the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. John Danforth’s seat Tuesday, while on the Democratic side, Rep. Alan Wheat led in his bid to become the first black person nominated to statewide office.

Danforth is retiring after three terms to devote full time to the Episcopal church. In very early returns, Ashcroft, a former two-term governor, had 1,125 votes, or 79%, swamping his four rivals.

On the Democratic side, Wheat, a six-term congressman, had 1,246 votes, or 40%, followed by Jackson County Executive Marsha Murphy’s 1,088 votes, or 35%.

In Michigan, Democratic Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr.'s decision not to seek a fourth six-year term drew a field of six Democrats and two Republicans, including former talk show host Ronna Romney.


Recent polls showed Romney locked in a tight race with Spencer Abraham, an assistant to former Vice President Dan Quayle. Romney is divorced from the son of George Romney, the former Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate. Rep. Bob Carr held a slight edge over the other Democrats.

The two Senate seats are among nine up for election this year in which incumbents are not running. Six of those seats are held by Democrats. Republicans hope to win at least seven of the open seats to help them gain control of the Senate, where Democrats hold a 56-44 majority. In all, 34 Senate seats are on ballots this year.

In gubernatorial politics, six Republicans and five Democrats fought to fill the seat of Kansas Gov. Joan Finney, who is stepping down after one term. In Michigan, four Democrats battled for the right to challenge GOP Gov. John Engler in the Nov. 8 general election.

And in Detroit, Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr., a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, faced his first serious primary challenge in 30 years.


Conyers, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Detroit in 1989 and 1993, faced lawyer Melvin Hollowell and former Detroit ombudsman Marie Farrell-Donaldson. Both criticized Conyers.