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Incumbents Likely to Survive Muddy Trip To Minnesota Polls

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BESIEGED by nearly a month of mudslinging campaigns, many Minnesota voters will probably register their displeasure by staying away from the polls today, political analysts say. If this happens, the ``two Rudys'' may edge out their opponents in the governor's and US Senate races.

Election-eve polls show both Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) gubernatorial candidate Rudy Perpich and Independent-Republican (IR) Sen. Rudy Boschwitz with razor-thin leads.

Governor Perpich is seeking an unprecedented fourth term and Senator Boschwitz has been in the Senate for 12 years. But despite the close polls, political analysts here are quietly predicting that both candidates probably have enough entrenched supporters to tip the scales in their favor.

Combined with a DFL majority in the statehouse and Legislature, a Perpich win would, political observers say, ensure that any state reapportionment would favor the Democrats.

Despite their slight underdog status, IR gubernatorial candidate Arne Carlson and DFL Senate hopeful Paul Wellstone were campaigning hard in their 11th-hour pushes to get out the vote.

Most observers blame former IR gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth for inadvertently aiding the incumbents. Mr. Grunseth dropped out of the campaign Oct. 28 following widely publicized allegations of sexual misconduct.

Local newspapers have made a point of saying that they were not disclosing other - possibly more serious - charges against Grunseth. The coverage by the local news media - especially that of the Star Tribune - has been criticized by some here for concentrating on the political race and all but ignoring the child-abuse angle.

Even so, the Republican Party has been hurt by the Grunseth candidacy. ``It's possible that the GOP has wounded itself so badly that it [the impact of the campaign] will stick with them for many years to come,'' says W. Phillips Shively, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. ``Many people in the state feel real revulsion.''


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