Cover Story: Races to Watch

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Despite disturbing signs of voter apathy, the 1974 elections could bring significant changes in the U.S. political landscape. Republicans cannot seem to escape the obloquy of Watergate and a mismanaged economy. In governorships, the Democrats now hold a 32-to-18 edge, hope to increase it to 38-to-12. In the Senate, the Democrats hope to improve their current majority of 58-to-42 by three or four seats. In the House, with all 435 seats at issue, the Democrats look to improve their present 248-to-187 standing by anywhere from 30 to 50 seats. With the balloting barely three weeks off, herewith a sampling of races for the statehouses, the Senate and the House:


No matter who the Democrats put up against Nelson Rockefeller—local hero, national figure—he inevitably went down to defeat. But now the invincible Rocky has gone to his reward in Washington, and his No. 2 man for 15 years, Malcolm Wilson, 60, is trying to keep the governorship for the Republicans. But if Wilson is a capable administrator, he lacks political punch with the electorate.

The Democrats think they are finally in a position to recapture statehouse and the polls bear them out, showing Brooklyn Congressman Hugh Carey, 55, with an almost 2-to-1 lead.

No high-powered thinker or speaker, Carey talks the language of New York City in a genial, gravelly voice. A traditional bread-and-butter liberal, he is taking cautious stands against taxes and busing and a moderate environmentalist position. He promises to block President Ford's surtax proposal from his post on the House Ways and Means Committee. An Irish Catholic widower with twelve children and no trace of limousine liberal snobbery, he is likely to win back much of the ethnic vote that has been deserting to the Republicans. He is aided in this effort by the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Mary Anne Krupsak, 42, who should pick up a sizable share of the Polish and woman's vote.

As the underdog, Wilson has begun to show some uncharacteristically sharp teeth. Making crime his top issue, he comes on like Wyatt Earp, promising to clear the streets and subways of muggers and calling Krupsak "soft on crime." He has one clear advantage over Carey. He is much more amply financed than his opponent, who spent most of his funds for television time in the primary. But unless Wilson changes voters' minds with a last-minute TV drive, he is destined to be outgunned by Carey.


Ohio voters could not have been presented with two more starkly contrasting candidates. Incumbent John Gilligan, 53, is a former college instructor who pushed through the state's first income tax and upgraded public services, especially the underfinanced school system. James Rhodes, 65, who spent eight years in the statehouse at Columbus before Gilligan succeeded him, kept taxes at the lowest level, in comparison to income, of any state in the nation and maintained social services at approximately the same level.

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