SANTA BARBARA, California (CWN) - The pro-abortion widow of the late US Rep. Walter Capps defeated her conservative Republican opponent in a special election on Tuesday that some observers said could be a preview of November's general elections.

      At midnight with 257 out of 356 precincts reporting, Lois Capps had received 66,424 votes to state Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro's 54,635. The election called to fill the seat vacated when Walter Capps died last October had been the object of intense campaigning by various special-interest groups honing their messages for the fall congressional elections. In his concession speech, Bordonaro congratulated his opponent, but said he will oppose her again in November. Capps' term will end in January.

      While Democrat and liberal analysts tried to cast the vote as an indicator of trends for the congressional elections this fall, Republicans and conservatives said the campaign came down to local issues of education, health care, and the environment despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by special interests. They also pointed to other special congressional elections held in the past year in which Republicans won as indicators that no set trend can be predicted.

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March 12, 1998 volume 9, no. 51         DAILY CATHOLIC