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National Perspective : '94 ELECTIONS / The Hottest House Races

November 04, 1994|D'JAMILA SALEM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are three certainties in this life: death, taxes and that the Democrats will control the House of Representatives. Not since the early days of Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency have the Republicans been in charge. Their 40 consecutive years on the outs have occurred even as they dominated control of the White House. But 1994 may be different, thanks in part to an anti-incumbent feeling among the electorate and 51 open seats. While early predictions of a reversal of fortunes and the ascension of Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to the Speaker's chair now appear dubious, the Republicans are still looking optimistically at three favorable Election Day scenarios: A) They win control outright, capturing 218 seats, up 40 from their current 178 seats; B) They win slightly less than a majority but woo conservative Democrats to jump parties by promising them protected seniority on key House committees; C) They use a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats to win a working majority. "If you look at 1980, the Republicans had 192 in the House and, with a block of Boll Weevil Democrats, Ronald Reagan was able to use a coalition of Democrats to pass his agenda," said Dan Leonard, National Republican Congressional Committee communications director. "This year we will easily win over 200 seats."

Pennsylvania: Democratic freshman Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who cast a last-minute vote to rescue President Clinton's economic plan, has breathed new life into her campaign against Republican Jon Fox, a Montgomery County commissioner. With the aid of a well-financed campaign, a series of negative ads and her popular vote for the assault-weapons ban, the outcome of the race is now uncertain. In recent weeks, she has sliced a double-digit deficit to just 4 percentage points.

Washington: Democratic Speaker Thomas S. Foley is fighting for his political life against Republican attorney George Nethercutt. The latest poll shows Foley closing to within 2 percentage points, after being down by nearly 20. Foley has been targeted by the National Rifle Assn. for his vote for the crime bill and by Americans for Term Limits. Foley has highlighted his political leadership and effectiveness. Nethercutt has stressed a need for change.

Florida: Sam Gibbons, acting Ways and Means Committee chairman, leads by 10 percentage points against Republican Mark Sharpe, but a full 20% of voters are undecided. Sharpe, a retired Navy pilot, collected 42% of the vote when he ran against Gibbons in 1992 on a "shoestring budget." This year he has a better financed campaign.

Top Fund-Raisers

The House candidates who raised the most money for their campaign between Jan. 1, 1993, and Sept. 30, 1994:

State Party Receipts Richard A. Gephardt Mo. D $2,354,527 Robert K. Dornan Calif. R $1,814,452 Gene Fontenot Tex. R $1,807,852 Timothy P. Moyer Wash. R $1,732,602 Thomas S. Foley Wash. D $1,595,732 Peter G. Fitzgerald Ill. R $1,551,982 Martin Frost Tex. D $1,449,333 Newt Gingrich Ga. R $1,433,181 Vic Fazio Calif. D $1,345,711 Dan Rostenkowski Ill. D $1,295,429 Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky Pa. D $1,287,888 Joseph Kennedy Mass. D $1,265,237 Charles B. Rangel N.Y. D $1,230,431 Lynn Schenk Calif. D $1,169,052 Nita M. Lowry N.Y. D $1,141,507

*

Current Breakdown

Dem. GOP Ind. Alabama 4 3 0 Alaska 0 1 0 Arizona 3 3 0 Arkansas 2 2 0 California 30 22 0 Colorado 2 4 0 Connecticut 3 3 0 Delware 0 1 0 Florida 10 13 0 Georgia 7 4 0 Hawaii 2 0 0 Idaho 1 1 0 Illinois 12 8 0 Indiana 7 3 0 Iowa 1 4 0 Kansas 2 2 0 Kentucky 3 3 0 Lousiana 4 3 0 Maine 1 1 0 Maryland 4 4 0 Massachusetts 8 2 0 Michigan 10 6 0 Minnesota 6 2 0 Mississippi 5 0 0 Missouri 6 3 0 Montana 1 0 0 Nebraska 1 2 0 Nevada 1 1 0 New Hampshire 1 1 0 New Jersey 7 6 0 New Mexico 1 2 0 New York 18 13 0 North Carolina 8 4 0 North Dakota 1 0 0 Ohio 10 9 0 Oklahoma 3 3 0 Oregon 4 1 0 Pennsylvania 11 10 0 Rhode Island 1 1 0 South Carolina 3 3 0 South Dakota 1 0 0 Tennessee 6 3 0 Texas 21 9 0 Utah 2 1 0 Vermont 0 0 1 Virginia 7 4 0 Washington 8 1 0 West Virginia 3 0 0 Wisconsin 4 5 0 Wyoming 0 1 0

House Control

Since House terms last only two years, all 435 seats are up for election. White represents where Democrats have a majority in the House delegation; black shows where Republicans dominate; dark gray indicates an even split. Vermont's lone House member is an independent.

House by Party

Dems.: 256

GOP: 178

Ind.: 1

Source: Political Hotline, Congressional Quarterly, Center for Responsive Politics, World Almanac.

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