Candidatesscramble for votes in tight races
Story by Zack SmithAssistant City Editor
The clock is ticking, and the candidates have only hours beforefinal votes are tallied in Election 2000.
From the presidential race down to the San Diego race for mayor,the contenders have their agendas set and are all hoping to win seatstomorrow.
Read on for a summary of the races for president, Congress andmayor of
America’s Finest City.
Gore vs. Bush
The bid for president has seen a locked-horn contention since theDemocratic and Republican National conventions this summer. Althoughnational polls have fluctuated a few points during Election 2000,through the weekend the race was a virtual tie.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore areneck-in-neck, while Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader has maintaineda steady presence in the polls at about three percent. Many peoplesay he’s tearing voters away from Gore, keeping him tied with Bush.
Both candidates campaigned aggressively this weekend. Bushtraveled to the two battleground states of Florida and Michigan,while Gore went to Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Both candidatestalked about how they would spend the federal budget surplus. Bushsaid tax money should be given back to people, but Gore stressed theimportance of enabling those who have not benefited from the nation’sprosperity to have a share of the wealth.
While Bush discussed his educational agenda of “leaving no childbehind” and localizing school control, Gore emphasized his “treatingteachers like the professionals they are” approach which encouragesfederal support of education reform.
Both candidates swayed from discussing recent accusations ofBush’s 1976 DUI conviction in Maine.
Politicalscience professor Jack Soule provided The Daily Aztec with ananalysis of Election 2000. Soule said in reference to Bush’s DUIconviction that it is a real shame that both parties have resorted tosuch negative campaigning against each other days before theelection.
He said that Bush’s strategy must be to rally voter support inbattleground states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oregon andWashington if he expects to win. Gore, on the other hand, needs tomaintain his support in states with a high number of electoral voteslike California and New York, he said.
Although Gore is leading the polls in Florida, anotherbattleground state, its electoral votes remain up for grabs.
He said in order for Bush and Gore to distinguish themselves, theywill both have to search for some cue they haven’t seen yet.
Despite Democrats’ attempts to win over Nader supporters, theGreen Party has refused to submit to them. They are aiming to secure5 percent of the vote in order to obtain federal funding in 2004.
“Nader could tip over a few undecided people,” Soule said. “He istrying to reach the apathetic (voters), the least interested.”
Soule said voter turnout is a crucial factor in deciding who winsthe election. Older voters are more likely to vote than youngervoters, he said.
49th Congressional race too close tocall
The battle to control Congress is as intense as ever. Republicanshold a 222 to 209 majority in the current House of Representatives,with two independents and two vacancies. Democratic contenders,particularly in California, are hoping to win seats to change that.
The breakdown in the Senate is 54-46 for the Republicans. But inthe Senate race, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein holds asignificant lead over Republican challenger Tom Campbell.
The 49th Congressional District seat is still fair game. In avirtual tie, incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray and DemocratAssemblywoman Susan Davis are both seeking voter support. Both havelaunched negative campaigns against each other in recent weeks; eachaccusing the other of receiving soft money from special interests –accusations both have repeatedly denied.
“There has been a lot of soft money in both the Democrat andRepublican campaigns,” Soule said. “Each spent over $1 million. Theaverage amount a congressional candidate spends is $600,000.”
Bilbray has held the congressional seat for three terms. He saidthat he is a moderate Republican who has consistently voted acrossparty lines to enact legislation such as his Beach Bill, which addsprotection to the nation’s coastline. Bilbray is also pro-choice.
Davis, a former San Diego School Board president, was elected tothe state Assembly in 1994. Some of her biggest issues are improvinghealth care and education. Davis said she would work to protect awoman’s right to choose.
Both candidates favor class-size reduction, but Bilbray said hewants to see more local control of education while Davis advocatesfederal control.
The 49th District encompasses most of coastal San Diego fromImperial Beach to Del Mar and inland along Interstate 8 in MissionValley.
San Diego mayoral race is still fairgame
Judge Dick Murphy enjoys a slight lead over County Supervisor RonRoberts in the mayoral race. However, recent polls have indicatedthat lead is decreasing as Roberts campaigns aggressively.
Labor unions and developers have contributed more than $140,000 tothe Roberts campaign. Murphy criticized him, saying this is proofthat Roberts bows to special interests.
Roberts officials fought back, citing Murphy seeking police andfire union contributions earlier this year. Roberts is an SDSUalumnus and was elected to city council in 1987 and the county boardof supervisors in 1995.
One of Roberts’ goals is to reduce traffic congestion andencourage smart growth. He would do this by building a trafficinfrastructure that supports growing housing demands.
Murphy has recently been endorsed by the San Diego Union-Tribuneand the Sierra Club.