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Democrats Ask to Have Widow Named to Serve Zorinsky Term

March 08, 1987|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Nebraska politicians began considering possible replacements Saturday for Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.), who died of a heart attack Friday night after dancing in a skit for an Omaha Press Club benefit.

State Democratic Party Chairman Tom Monaghan told reporters Saturday that he had asked Nebraska Gov. Kay A. Orr, a Republican, to choose Zorinsky's widow, Cece, a Democrat, to serve the remainder of his term, which expires in 1988.

Orr, who declined to comment on her possible choice until after Zorinsky's funeral today in Omaha, is also reportedly being asked to consider a number of Republicans. If she decides on a member of her party, the Senate would have 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans.

2 House Members Mentioned

Among the Republican names being mentioned in Nebraska were Reps. Hal Daub and Doug Bereuter, Eugene Mahoney, head of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and former GOP State Chairman Kermit Brashear.

Zorinsky, 58, a political maverick who took his "open door" policy to such lengths that he removed the door of his Senate office, was lauded by politicians of both parties Saturday for his independence.

A native of Omaha, he began his political career as a Republican and became well-known in the state as mayor of his hometown. Complaining that Republican leaders passed him over in 1976 when he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, Zorinsky switched to the Democratic Party and won the seat vacated by GOP Sen. Roman L. Hruska.

Last year, Zorinsky hinted that he might return to his Republican roots and "do what's best for Nebraska." The remark, along with several votes supporting Republican positions in the Senate, was said to have cost him the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee when the Democrats took over the Senate this year.

Reagan Offers Praise

Zorinsky was praised by President Reagan on Saturday as "a man of courage and principle" and "a man of the people."

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