Vice President George Bush, bidding to extend his winning streak in New England, led Bob Dole last night in the Vermont Republican presidential primary, as Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis defeated four other Democrats in the low-key, low-stakes tuneup for Super Tuesday.
In the state with the fewest Blacks in the nation, the Rev. Jesse Jackson ran a strong second to the Massachusetts governor--as he did last weekend in Maine. Gary Hart, the big winner here in 1984, was running dead last.
Dole was flush with endorsements in his effort to challenge the vice president in his Yankee backyard. Pat Robertson and Rep. Jack Kemp (R.-N.Y.) put up little effort and lagged far behind the GOP frontrunners.
Analysts dismissed the Vermont and Maine elections as "beauty contest" primaries. Vermont's national convention delegates will not be apportioned until next month in party caucuses, and the candidates have practically ignored the state to concentrate on the South. The primary took place on Town Meeting Day, when Vermont's 328,466 voters also decided town budgets, road repairs and a host of other local issues.
With 58 percent of Vermont's precincts reporting, Bush had 9838 votes or 49 percent, compared to Dole with 8168 and 40 percent. Robertson, whose supporters said they were focusing on the April caucuses, had 5 percent and Kemp had just 4 percent.
Bush had established his standing in New England with a dramatic victory in New Hampshire over Dole and a victory over Robertson in Maine.
Among the Democrats, with 81 percent of the precincts reporting, Dukakis had 20,386 votes or 56 percent and Jackson had 10,012 votes or 27 percent. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D.-Mo.), who visited the state several times, had 8 percent of the vote and Sen. Paul Simon (D.-III.), who made no real effort, had 6 percent. Hart had 4 percent and Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D.-Tenn.) was not on the ballot.
Meanwhile, Dukakis worked the streets, coffee shops and nursing homes of his home state yesterday to ask the people of Massachusetts for their votes on Super Tuesday.
At a rapid-fire series of lunchtime stops in the Eighth Congressional District, formerly that of Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Dukakis was warmly received by most of his fellow Bay Staters. But he was dogged by a small band of gay rights advocates who loudly denounced his foster care policy.
For Dukakis, the brief foray along Massachusetts Avenue was the first--and possibly the only--presidential campaign event in his home state, which will hold Republican and Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday along with 14 Southern states.
Aides said the governor may return from crisscrossing the South as early as next Monday night. If so, they said, he may make a final campaign appearance in Massachusetts early on Super Tuesday.