Election analysis: Don't take voters for granted
By Bill Schneider
November 3, 1999
Web posted at: 6:10 p.m. EST (2310 GMT)
WASHINGTON -- Now that voters have cast their ballots on Election Day 1999, the search begins for a message in the results.
The biggest story out of the variety of city and state races around the country was that Virginia voters gave total control of the state legislature to Republicans. The GOP held its majority in the state Senate and captured the House of Delegates for the first time in history.
The message from that effort is that money and moderation win. Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore spearheaded a huge fund-raising and spending effort, nearly $18 million, $4 million more than the Democrats.
The money along with a less divisive message brought Republicans a victory that eluded them four years ago, when the previous GOP governor, George Allen, ran a more hard-edged campaign.
In Kentucky, the easy re-election of Democratic Gov. Paul Patton is proof that while southern Democrats may be endangered, they're not extinct.
"But we've only begun, the job is not finished, the work goes on and we're committed to the task," Patton said.
More than 200 cities elected mayors Tuesday, and Democrats fared well in several GOP strongholds. Bart Peterson became the first Democrat elected mayor of Indianapolis in 36 years while Michael Coleman was the first Democrat elected mayor of Columbus, Ohio, in 32 years. He also is the city's first African-American mayor.
"Just like the postman, you delivered!'' Coleman told supporters Tuesday night.
So Democrats did well in the nation's heartland. They also did well in Philadelphia, where Republicans will hold their national convention next year.
Democrat John Street survived a tough GOP challenge to become the city's second African-American mayor with the help of President Bill Clinton, who campaigned for Street and very likely increased black voter turnout.
Street got enough white votes -- about a quarter of the vote in white working-class South Philadelphia -- to put him over the top. In Baltimore, a white Democrat, Martin O'Malley, won easily on Tuesday after winning the Democratic primary in September with the support of one in three black voters.
So the Baltimore and Philadelphia races indicate that urban racial differences may not be as strong as they used to be.
In ballot propositions, Maine voters rejected a ban on a certain late-term abortion procedure. Anti-abortion forces have been trying to regain political momentum by rallying opposition to late-term abortions, but the Maine vote shows that it may not always work.
In Mississippi, voters rejected a term-limits proposal and if term-limits fail in Mississippi, then the term-limits movement may have truly run its course.
New York voters also sent some messages. In New York City, voters overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Rudy Giuliani's charter reform proposal, possibly because the proposition -- which would have strengthened the mayor's office -- smelled too much like a blatant power play.
New York also brought some bad news for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is contemplating a Senate run in the Empire State. In Buffalo, Republican Joel Giambra -- who defected from the Democrats before the entering the race -- defeated a three-term Democratic incumbent Dennis Gorski to become the area's county executive.
So the voter's overall message this year: Don't take us for granted.