Ex-actor Ben Jones, who played a mechanic on the "Dukes of Hazzard," dismantled his opponents in a bid to face an embattled Republican congressman in Georgia this fall, while a 44-year Illinois incumbency ended by death was returned to Democratic hands.
In other primaries Tuesday, Georgia voters picked a young Democratic attorney to take on Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich, a five-term congressman who has led efforts to force an investigation of House Speaker Jim Wright.Colorado had primaries in six congressional districts but only one pitched battle. State Rep. David Bath defeated former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan, who lost to Gary Hart in the 1980 Senate race, in a race scarcely noticed by voters.
Elsewhere, Ralph David Abernathy III, son of the civil rights leader, decisively won the Democratic nomination for a state House seat in Atlanta. Abernathy will meet Republican John E. Thompson in the fall.
Jones, 47, had been rated the Democratic favorite against Rep. Pat Swindell in Georgia's 4th District race, both as a result of his 1986 campaign effort and his role as the mechanic "Cooter" on "The Dukes of Hazzard" television show.
With all 220 precincts reporting unofficial totals, Jones had 32,637 votes, or 62 percent; lawyer Nick Moraitakis, 10,832, or 21 percent; and theater executive John Stembler, 8,814, or 17 percent.
In southern Illinois, Democrat Jerry Costello won a special election to fill the final 41/2 months of the late Rep. Mel Price's term, but Republicans say the race was close enough to merit their continued attention in November.
Price, a Democrat, died in April after nearly 44 years in Congress.
In all, eight of Georgia's 10 congressmen won renomination without opposition in the primary election. Both of those opposed were victorious.