By DAVID AMMONS
SEATTLE – Republican Sen. Slade Gorton held a shaky lead today against Maria Cantwell in the nation’s last unresolved Senate race.
Of more than 1.6 million votes counted, Gorton, an 18-year Senate veteran, led by about 3,200 votes, with hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted.
The race could remain unsettled for days.
Cantwell, 42, predicted victory based on absentee ballots, saying most of the uncounted votes are in King County and other large counties where she ran strongest.
Gorton, 72, said he expects to pull out a victory, too.
“When it’s all done, I’m convinced I’ll be in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Cantwell, a senior vice president of the Internet audio-video software company Realnetworks, plowed $10 million of her fortune into a campaign that suggested Gorton was increasingly out of step with the electorate.
Gorton, scion of a New England fish-sticks family, retorted that he was the candidate with new ideas and that the $7 million he spent came from 22,000 donors, not one millionaire’s checkbook.
With winners declared in 33 of the nation’s 34 Senate races Tuesday, the GOP will have at least 50 of the 100 senators.
This year’s Senate race in Washington state was an echo of 1980 – The Upstart vs. The Elder.
Gorton, then 52, ran against 75-year-old Democratic Sen. Warren G. Magnuson and raised the age issue subtly but clearly. He jogged 60 miles to file for office and taped commercials in running clothes, appealing to voters to elect someone young enough to build seniority and clout.
Gorton still jogs about 20 miles a week, but this time he had to look over his shoulder at a challenger who was born the year he entered public life.
In her own generational pitch, Cantwell said: “It’s not about age. It’s about longevity.”
“I know in 1980, he had a lot to say about what happens when you stay in the system too long, and you forget to listen to people,” she said.
Gorton is counselor to Majority Leader Trent Lott and a major power on budget committees. He cites two home-state issues as evidence the government is getting too big: the antitrust case against Microsoft and a move to breach dams on the Snake River to restore salmon runs.
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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