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The 'Inside Politics' Interview: Political Analyst Charlie Cook

Aired May 19, 1998 - 5:16 p.m. EDT

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about other primary contests in Pennsylvania, as well as those in Arkansas and Oregon.

Political analyst Charlie Cook joins us.

Charlie, let's start in Pennsylvania, where the governor, Tom Ridge, is unopposed in the GOP primary. He's looking for a second term. Another prominent Pennsylvania Republican, Senator Arlen Specter, is being challenged by two political newcomers. If re- elected, Arlen Specter would be the state's first four-term U.S. senator. So, let me ask you first about Specter and Ridge's prospects?

CHARLIE COOK, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Both of them are looking in very, very strong shape for the primary and for the general election. Essentially, they're not competitive races. Both of them should win very easily.

WOODRUFF: All right, back to Bill Goodling -- Brooks Jackson was reporting on that race -- what do you -- what's your sense?

COOK: Well, part of what's happening is the term limitations movement had a lot of momentum in 1994, 1995, but they've started losing momentum the last couple of years, and they're trying to kind of rejuvenate the cause and trying to put a fear -- the fear of God into incumbents or politicians that aren't going along with them, and that's what they're doing here.

Some Republicans call them the Pol Pot of the Republican party, killing their own people. At the end of the day I suspect you'll see Goodling win, however, if the turnout is low enough and real, real, real low you could see an upset here but I'd say Goodling is favored over Gerow.

WOODRUFF: What does this bode for other candidates around the country who oppose term limits?

COOK: Well, it's not just term limitations, I mean, this group is also very active out in California -- the special election -- the 22nd District of California and other places. I think we're just seeing a proliferation of all kinds of causes, both sides of the aisle getting in and some cases drowning out the candidates from the two sides, and it's something that's completely changed the dynamics of campaigns today.

WOODRUFF: And you see it continuing through November?

COOK: Sure, and with the court decisions going the way they are, there's just not a lot that -- there's nothing that campaigns can do to stop it, or the parties for that matter, so I think it's going to accelerate.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's look specifically at Arkansas. You've got an open U.S. Senate seat, Blanche Lincoln, the former Congresswoman is running, tell is about that.

COOK: This is where Dale Bumpers is not seeking reelection and where we're expecting probably a runoff between former Congresswoman Blanche Lincoln Lambert -- Blanche Lambert Lincoln and probably Winston Bryant the state attorney-general. It should be pretty close. We think that they're gonna be in the runoff and I would give Blanche -- or Lincoln the edge in the runoff. On the Republican side we'll probably see Faye Bowsman -- state Senator Faye Bowsman win the Republican primary and face off the winner of the Democratic runoff. This is a seat that Democrats have been very, very worried about early on, but now it's looking a little bit more likely that they'll be able to hold on to it, particularly if Lambert's -- if Lincoln's the nominee.

WOODRUFF: But it could be a woman whichever way.

COOK: Right. As you could see, this is one of a couple of women that might pick up -- Geraldine Ferraro is another, but it will be the second, or the third woman from the south, with Mary Landrieu (ph) from Louisiana and...

WOODRUFF: Kay Bailey...

COOK: Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas.

WOODRUFF: All right, Oregon. Specifically, there's a House race, a House district race.

COOK: We're watching a Republican primary in the First District where Elizabeth Furse -- First District where Elizabeth Furse, f-u-r- s-e, is retiring and it's going to be a very competitive primary between Molly Borttenero (ph) who is a conservative activist, and John...

WOODRUFF: No relation to the fellow who ran in...

COOK: Actually, they are distant cousins from the Republican nominee down in that 22nd District, again that keeps coming back, and John Kivostat (ph) who is the Portland, well actually it's the metro government chairman, it's the Portland Metropolitan Area government, and given the way more conservative candidates have a tendency to pull out and she's got more money, I think you'll see Borttenero win the primary.

WOODRUFF: Republicans we're told, Charlie, increasingly are sweating out what their prospects are this November, uncertainty on the national landscape in terms of what's gonna happen with the

president, the investigations and everything. At this point, May the 19th, what does it look like for Republicans?

COOK: I think the chances -- I mean, Republicans are in a panic right now and I think that they should be very concerned. I think their chances of losing seats has gone up and now it's more likely than not they will lose seats. But the chances of Democrats scoring an 11-seat net gain, I would still only put it in the five or 10 percent range. They would have to draw -- Democrats would have to draw the political equivalent of an inside straight in poker to pull this off, and I can get 'em to four, five or six, but boy, I have a hard time getting them to 11 without some big macro dynamic taking over.

WOODRUFF: All right, Charlie Cook, thank you very much.

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