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Mayor's Race Viewed Extremely Close

Mayor's Race Viewed Extremely Close image
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■ O' -- x ' p f ' [ How miren Democratie support has Mayor Robert J. Harris lost during his two years in office? How many moderate Republicans are turned off by the conservative brand of politics espoused by Jack J. Garrís? And what will these two groups do tomorrow? Answer these questions correctly and it will not be necessary to wait until tomorrow night to know the winner of the mayoral election race. MofI observers view the race for the city's top elective post as being extremely close. Some term it a toss-up. Complicating predictions on the race's outcome are the write-in candidacys of Radical Independent Party standardbcarer Doug Cornell and Republican Lewis C. Ernst, who finished a distant third in the February GOP primary election. Although neither man is given any realistic chance to win, Cornell could draw votes from the University area, wherc he holds most, if not all, of his support. Some have interpreted a writeiti vote for Cornell as a protest vote against the two main contenders. Harris, using whatever political measurement, must be cast in the favorite's role. But Garris played the underdog's role to perfection in the February prijnary when he upset the Republican committee's hand-picked candidate for mayor, Louis D. Belcher. Neither man's campaign has appeared to really catch fire over the past weeks. The political philosophies of the two are readily distinguishable and this is no "tweedie dee-tweedle duin" election in which the only difference between two candidates is their names. Tomorrow's election will doubtless be determined by the turnout of voters at the polls. In past years a large turnout normally favored Republicans, but this year the reverse appears to be true. It can be expected more than 50 per cent of the city's 42,787 registered voters will cast ballots tomorrow. In addition to the City Council races, voters will also be deciding the fate of a proposed $3.5 million parks and recreation bond issue. Given the fact conservatives have not fared well in Ann Arbor during the past decade, tomorrow's election should not be such a big question mark. But the factor that blurs the election picture is that both men have been fighting an up-hill battle. Garris has been doing this since he announced for the Republican nomination in December; Harrif since the summer of 1969 when his administration ran into difficulties vith demonstrators on campus. Both have exhibited little shyness in expressing their views and, on occasion, this has hurt them. Although the mayoral race has drawn confests being waged for City Councir ward seats. Regardless of the outcome of the mayor's race most observers are assuming Republicans will take control of the council. To retain their 6-to-5 control of counril, Democrats would have to win five of the six races tomorrow. Not even the mort optimistic Democrats foresee this asa possibility. Democrats are cast in the favorite's role in only two wards, the First and Second. And the Second Ward contest between incumbent Democrat Robert G. Faber and Republican challenger Don W. Robinson appears extremely close. In this ward, the third party candidacy of University student Jerry DeGrieck could affect the outcome of the race. Some observers feel DeGrieck will take votes from Faber here since the ward includes most of the U-M campus area. Democrat Norris J. Thomas is facing Republican Edward P. Rutka in the traditionally Democratie First Ward. Republicans Richard A. Hadler in the Fourth Ward and John D. McCormick in the Fifth Ward are given the inside track to defeat their Democratie opponents Gilbert B. Lee and Donald I. Warren, respectively. The Third Ward contest is also rated about even, with Republican Peter S. Wright going against Democrat Nelson K. Meade. The latter has had more exposure in the Third Ward because he ran for the County Board of Commissioners, but Wright is a former Republican chairman here. The batüe line for tomorrow's mayoral election race appears to be drawn straight down Main St. Garrís is expected to have his heaviest support on the west side of town and to win Harris will have to offset this with a strong eastside showing. Many staunch, moderate Republicans have refused to give Garrís monetary or oral support. Harris' hopes of victory lie in getting these moderates to voté for him in the mayor's race. Garrís has received support from veterans groups and senior citizens. He has also bitten into the traditionally Democratie union block and, in fact, is expected to receive a majority of these votes. Party members from both sides have, I in fact, formally switched their support I over to the candidates of the opposing I party due to the great philosophical diff erences between the two men. Last week, a group calling itself I "Republicans for Responsible 1 ment," headed by former GOP mayor I pro tem John R. Hathaway, announced I " it wouíd not "back Garrís in the election. The next day, another group known as "Concerned Democrats," led by former Democratie City Committee vice chairman Mrs. Mary Fox, carne out against Harris' re-election. The student vote could be significant in a close race, and although Harris is expected to easily carry this segment of the voting public over Garrís, CornelPs candidacy could hurt the incumbent mayor. Harris has also lost some support in the black community but it is considered highly unlikely Garrís will be able to capture a sizeable percentage of these voters. The city GOP Committee has officially endorsed Garrís, as have the five Republican ward candidates. But this endorsement has been luke-warm at best and a victory tomorrow for Garrís- just as in the primary- would be due largely to the work of those who were actively behind him from the beginning. Even on the present City Council, one Republican councilman- Robert Weaver "öTthe Sëcönd" Ward- is not endorsing I Garrís. The other four GOP councilmen I have endorsed him, while all five I cratic councilmen have endorsed Harris. One leading Republican says the I endorsement of Garrís by the city GOP I Committee is far from unanimous, I ing there is probably about an even split I in that group. Not a Garrís supporter, I this Republican termed the action of I some party leaders to endorse Garrís as j being "hypocritical." Harris pulled one of the major upsets in city political history two years ago when he defeated Republican Richard Balzhiser for the mayor's seat by a 600vote margin. At the same time, Democrats won four of the five ward seats and took a commanding 8 to 3 majority on council. That wide majority was trimmed considerably last April when the GOP made a significant comeback and captured four of five ward seats. The "law and order" issue which swept Republicans to victory a year ago has been toned down j a bit in this year's campaign.