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Specter Beats Anti-israel Challenger but Could Fact Tough Race in the Fall

Sen. Arlen Specter has been denominated for a third term by Pennsylvania Republicans, who gave him a 2-1 margin over an opponent who challenged Specter for supporting Israel.

But in November, Specter will have to face Democrat Lynn Yeakel, a candidate virtually unknown until a month ago who won an upset victory over her party-endorsed opponent.

Yeakel, who won 76 percent of the Jewish vote, concentrated her campaign on attacking the way Specter questioned witness Anita Hill during Senate hearings to confirm the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the Pennsylvania presidential contests, both President Bush and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton easily won their respective primaries.

Bush, with 77 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for his Conservative challenger, Patrick Buchanan, now has 1,105 delegates, enough to assure him the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Houston this August.

Clinton, who received 56 percent of the vote, does not have the nomination sewed up yet, but is two-thirds of the way there. His chief rival, former California Gov. Jerry Brown, received 26 percent of the vote, and former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, who is no longer in the race, won 12 percent.

Among Jewish voters, who made up 6 percent of the Democrats who went to the polls Tuesday, Clinton won 54 percent, Brown won 31 percent and Tsongas won 11 percent. There was no breakdown for Jewish Republicans, who made up only 2 percent of voters in that primary.


It was the Senate race, though, that had most of the drama.

Specter, who is Jewish, received 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for his opponent, state R Rep. Stephen Freind. During the campaign, Freind attacked the two-term senator for receiving support from pro-Israel groups and for supporting aid to Israel, including Israel’s request for $10 billion in U.S. guaranteed loans.

While this charge did not seem to have much effect, women’s issues came to the fore in the primaries and may be the dominant issue in the fall campaign.

Freind, who opposes abortion, is the sponsor of Pennsylvania’s restrictive abortion law, which is now being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yeakel, a fund-raiser for women’s causes, entered the race because she said she was angered by the aggressive manner in which Specter interrogated Anita Hill, who had accused Judge Thomas of sexual harassment.

By attacking Specter and ignoring her Democratic opponents, Yeakel won 44 percent of the primary vote. Lt. Gov. Mark Singel, who had been the front-runner with the Democratic Party’s endorsement, received 33 percent of the vote. Another candidate, Robert Colville, received 14 percent of the vote.

Yeakel’s stance on Jewish issues is largely unknown. She has issued a policy statement expressing support for Israel, for aid to the Jewish state and for providing U.S. guarantees for the loans it has requested.