WASHINGTON (Oct. 8)
Florida Senator Richard Stone, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East, failed yesterday to win the Democratic Party run-off election for a second term in the Senate. He lost to Bill Gunter, Florida State Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner who Stone had defeated in run-off elections six years ago.
With all of Florida’s 3597 precincts reporting, Gunter had an unofficial total of 574,238 votes or 52 percent of the total while Stone garnered 535,671 or 48 percent.
In the Democratic primaries in September, Stone led a field of eight candidates with 32 percent of the vote to Gunter’s 31 percent. Since none of the candidates received more than half of the vote, a run-off was necessary.
Gunter, 46, from Orlando in central Florida, served one term in Congress from 1973-1974. He will face Florida Republican National Committee woman Paula Hawkins who captured her party’s nomination with 62 percent of the vote over Lou Frey Jr., a farmer five-term Congressman.
Stone ran 2-1 ahead of Gunter in south Florida while Gunter led in Jacksonville, the Florida panhandle and in central Florida. Some Democratic officials said Stone’s defeat could hurt President Carter’s reelection hopes in Florida because, they said, south Florida Jews, heavily committed to Stone, are apathetic or opposed to Gunter and may stay away from the polls in the Nov. 4 elections.
REPORT VICIOUS RUN-OFF CAMPAIGN
Press reports from Miami on the elections said the run-off campaign was vicious.” The reports said that Gunter waged a vitriolic campaign in which he described Stone as a “tool of special Interests.” who “waffled” on tough issues and war “too rich” to
Stone, 52, is among the strongest supporters of Israel in the Senate. He has consistently opposed any rupture in the balance of power between Israel and its Arab neighbors. On this basis, he opposed the shipment of sophisticated U.S. weapons to the Arab states to the extent that they would upset the balance. He now has legislation before the Senate to oppose the transfer of 100 of the latest U.S. tanks to Jordan.
Stone was the fourth incumbent Senator to lose in the primaries this year. The others are Jacob Javits (R.NY), who will run on the Liberal Party ticket; Mike Gravel (D. Alaska); and Donald Stewart (D.Alo.).
Gunter received congratulations from the White House and from Florida Gov. Bob Graham But Stone did not immediately concede. His office in Washington told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was waiting for the results of some 40,000 absentee ballots. But apparently they would not be sufficient to reverse the runoff results.