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5-Term Lawmaker Loses Ala. Democratic Runoff

June 26, 2002|From Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Five-term Rep. Earl Hilliard was ousted in a Democratic runoff Tuesday after a nasty campaign against a younger, well-funded challenger who swamped the impoverished Alabama district with commercials questioning the incumbent's stance on the Middle East.

The astonishing victory by Harvard-educated lawyer Artur Davis was tantamount to election because there is no Republican nominee.

Hilliard, who in 1992 became the first black member of Alabama's congressional delegation since Reconstruction, becomes the fifth incumbent congressman to lose at the polls this year.

With 87% of precincts reporting, Davis had 47,508 votes, or 57%, and Hilliard had 35,515 votes, or 43%.

Hilliard, 60, was forced into the first runoff of his career after failing to win a majority in the primary earlier this month.

Davis, a 34-year-old former federal prosecutor, aired a series of stinging TV ads in which he criticized Hilliard's repeated ethics scrapes and accused him of being linked to terrorism.

Hilliard has said he supports creation of a Palestinian state and recently opposed a resolution supporting Israel's self-proclaimed war against terrorism. The stance won him support from Arab groups while his opponent had the backing of Jews and pro-Israel groups. Both men are black.

Davis raised more money than Hilliard, much of it from Jews in New York. Hilliard, who visited Libya in 1997, was backed by Arab donors and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In South Carolina, ex-Rep. Mark Sanford won the GOP gubernatorial nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges. With all precincts reporting, Sanford had 181,984 votes, or 60%, and Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler had 121,535, or 40%.

Also in South Carolina, Gresham Barrett beat fellow state Rep. Jim Klauber in the Republican race to succeed GOP Rep. Lindsey O. Graham, who is running for the seat of retiring 99-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Elsewhere Tuesday:

* In Alabama, state GOP Rep. Sonny Callahan's chief of staff, Jo Bonner, won the Republican nomination to succeed his boss, who is retiring after nine terms. Alabama Democrats also chose State Treasurer Susan Parker to challenge freshman GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions this fall.

* In Utah, voters were to decide two runoffs in the 1st Congressional District, where Republican Rep. James V. Hansen is retiring after 22 years. Businessman Kevin Garn--a distant relative of former Sen. Jake Garn--and former Utah House Speaker Rob Bishop sought the GOP nomination. The Democratic race pitted education consultant Donald Dunn against advertising executive Dave Thomas.

In Utah's 2nd District, state lawmaker John Swallow battled venture capitalist Tim Bridgewater for the GOP nomination to face Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson.

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