John Silber, Boston University's blunt and caustic president, upset former state Attorney General Francis Bellotti for the Democratic nomination for governor as voters swept out candidates with ties to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.
Silber, who was all but written off a week ago for referring to an inner-city neighborhood as a "group of drug addicts," will face Republican William Weld, a former federal prosecutor, in November.In Oklahoma, voters on Tuesday approved a first-in-the-nation constitutional amendment limiting state lawmakers to 12 years in office. In runoff elections for the gubernatorial nomination, Democrat David Walters and Republican Bill Price slipped past their opponents by as few as 3,046 votes.
Both men in Oklahoma were newcomers to politics, as was Silber in Massachusetts, where the native Texan styled himself a political outsider and stunned the state Democratic establishment in winning.
"There was a tidal wave coming and we happened to be standing on the beach when it hit," Massachusetts Attorney General James Shannon said after losing his re-election bid.
Shannon and Bellotti were among several Democrats with ties to the Dukakis administration who were swept away amid the state's inability to come to grips with a crumbling economy. Dukakis, like Republican Gov. Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma, is stepping down.
With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Silber had 520,926 votes, or 54 percent, to Bellotti's 423,390 votes, or 44 percent. Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy had 27,546 votes, or 3 percent. She was on the Democratic ballot despite having dropped out following a mutiny against Dukakis in which she tried to take control of the state's finances while he was in Europe.
Weld also won an outsider's victory in the GOP primary, defeating House Minority Leader Steven Pierce, an early favorite.
Silber, a 64-year-old shoot-from-the-hip educator whose "drug addicts" remark was one of his trademark "Silber shockers," said he would continue to emphasize his 19 years as BU president as experience that qualifies him to change the ailing state government.
In the other major statewide contest, businessman James Rappaport, who spent $2 million of his own money on his first major campaign, easily defeated Dan Daly for the right to oppose Democratic incumbent John Kerry in the U.S. Senate race in November.
In Oklahoma, voters approved the limit on lawmakers' tenure by a 2-1 margin. The amendment takes effect Jan. 1; lawmakers now in office will be allowed to serve 12 more years.
In the gubernatorial race, Walters, the Democrats' 1986 nominee, slipped past U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins, 242,997 votes to 236,181. The Republican nominee, Price, won by even less, beating businessman Vince Orza 94,588 to 91,542.
In Washington state, former Republican Gov. John Spellman's political comeback fell short. He lost in his bid to unseat state Supreme Court Justice Richard Guy.
Here are highlights of Tuesday's voting in Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Washington:
Governor: Boston University President John Silber defeated former state Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti in the Democratic primary; former federal prosecutor William Weld defeated House Minority Leader Stephen Pierce in the Republican race.
Senate: Real estate developer James Rappaport defeated businessman Dan Daly to capture the GOP nomination; he will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. John Kerry.
Governor: In runoffs that followed the Aug. 28 primary, 1986 nominee David Walters defeated U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins for the Democratic nomination and former U.S. Attorney Bill Price beat businessman Vince Orza in the GOP race.
Supreme Court: Former Gov. John D. Spellman, a Republican, lost to Justice Richard Guy, who was appointed last fall by Gov. Booth Gardner.