Although his opponent was unwilling to concede defeat, Rep. Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) claimed victory and appeared virtually certain to win his bid for reelection as Congressman in the 4th Congressional district early this morning.
At 3 a.m. Drinan led moderate Republican candidate Arthur D. Mason Jr. by 10 per cent of the votes counted. Drinan was 13,000 votes ahead of Mason at 1 a.m.
It was the narrowest gap in any of the state's congressional races.
Drinan said he had won a "tremendous victory" last night, and attributed his performance to strong support in the conservative western towns of the district, towns Mason had counted on to give him a majority.
"The people of this district have disproved the theory that there are no moral issues left after Vietnam and Watergate," Drinan said last night. In three previous successful Congressional campaigns, Drinan relied heavily upon such factors as his opposition to the Vietnam War and his early call for the resignation of former President Richard M. Nixon.
In a lyrical victory speech to a crowd of about 400 supporters at Sydney Hill Country Club in Newton, Drinan said "a bond of true love" exists between him and his constituents.
Drinan said he will concentrate heavily on international affairs in the next two years, in contrast to his focusing in the past on domestic issues.
He said he will fly to Argentina next week on behalf of Amnesty International to study what he called the "repressive situation" there, and added that he may introduce legislation in Congress that would ban all economic aid to the government of Argentina.
At 11 p.m. Mason addressed supporters at the American Legion Post 440 in Newton, urging them to "hang in there." "We have come too far together to give up before we see the votes come in," he said.
Throughout the night Mason and his spokesmen insisted that Drinan's large leads in Brookline and Newton were anticipated, and that late returns from western towns using paper ballots could produce a reversal in the final tally.
An enthusiastic crowd of 100 supporters cheered Mason and encouraged him not to concede. He had not conceded as of 3 a.m.