Originally created 11/06/96

Gingrich allies hold early leads



ATLANTA - Three Republican freshman allies of U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich held early leads in a fight to keep their jobs Tuesday in the first test of a court-drawn congressional map that Democrats hoped would boost their chances.

Meanwhile, two black Democrats battled to retain seats in districts that were stripped of their black majorities.

And the nationally unpopular Mr. Gingrich faced his own re-election test against cookie company millionaire Michael Coles in the suburban Atlanta 6th District. Mr. Gingrich was seeking a 10th term.

Georgia's congressional districts were redrawn after the Supreme Court last year ruled in a landmark case that race cannot be the predominant factor in drawing districts.

A three-judge panel drew a new Georgia map, dismantling two of the state's majority-black districts and spreading black voters among several districts. Democrats said the new map worked in their favor.

Republican freshman Rep. Charlie Norwood was leading in a close race over attorney David Bell.

With 20 percent of the vote counted in the 8th District, freshman Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss led with 16,173 votes (55 percent) over former U.S. Attorney Jim Wiggins, who had 13,500 votes (45 percent). Almost half the voters in the district, which runs from Macon to the Florida line, are new.

With 18 percent of the vote counted in the 7th District in the counties northwest of Atlanta, freshman Republican Rep. Bob Barr led with 13,575 votes or 58 percent over former state lawmaker Charlie Watts, who had 9,674 votes or 42 percent.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a black Democrat whose 11th District was dismantled as the focus of the Supreme Court ruling, faced attorney John Mitnick in the newly drawn 4th District, a DeKalb County district that is 35 percent black. The campaign was dominated by headlines of hate and charges of racism.

With 25 percent of the vote counted in the 2nd District in southwest Georgia, Rep. Sanford Bishop, a black Democrat, led with 20,003 votes or 63 percent in his battle for a third term, against businessman Darrel Ealum, who had 11,715 votes or 37 percent. The district went from 52 percent black to 35 percent black and no longer included Mr. Bishop's hometown.

Republican Rep. Nathan Deal won re-election to a third term, beating former state lawmaker Ken Poston in the 9th District in the north Georgia mountains. With 27 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Deal led with 26,908 votes or 65 percent to Mr. Poston's 14,609 votes or 35 percent. It was Mr. Deal's first test since switching parties midterm in 1995.

With 12 percent of the vote counted in the 11th District in counties northeast of Atlanta, Republican Rep. John Linder, a key Gingrich lieutenant, led with 9,338 votes or 54 percent over former state Rep. Tommy Stephenson, who had 7,875 votes or 46 percent. About half the voters in the district are new to Mr. Linder.

Republican Rep. Mac Collins won re-election to a third term, beating attorney Jim Chafin in the 3rd District in counties south of Atlanta. With 27 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Collins led with 27,262 votes or 59 percent to Mr. Chafin's 18,948 votes or 41 percent.

Republican Rep. Jack Kingston won re-election to a third term, beating chiropractor Rosemary Kaszans in the 1st District in southeast Georgia. With 19 percent of the vote counted, Kingston led with 13,778 votes or 71 percent to Mrs. Kaszans' 5,699 votes or 29 percent.