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New Hampshire Senate Race

By Paul DUKE Jr.

CAN A POPUIAR five term Congressman defeat a moral majorjtarian airline pilot? Dose it matter if the former airline pilot's wife belongs to an organization that believes that orgasms are essential to mental and physical health--for children as well as adults? Is this America or another figment of Ronald Reagan's imagination?

These are among the bizarre questions observers of the New Hampshire political scene are asking themselves, as they take stock of a Senate race that promised to be one of the most boring in the country, yet turned out to be one of the most ornery.

The most salient fact on the landscape is that Republican Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey, the former Allegheny Airlines pilot with the wife who belongs to the American College of Orgonomy, is the incumbent. And the incumbent in a year which is to New Right Republicans like himself what 1968 was to the New Left is in good shape. Especially in conservative New Hampshire.

That means that poor Democratic Rep. Norman E. D'Amours, a hardworking puckish little man with a reputation for keeping to himself and his state's best interests, has had himself an uphill fight. New Hampshire's economy screamed in the midst of the 1982 recession, with unemployment among the nation's highest at 9.2 percent. New, at a time when the most effective political rallying cry is "me!", New Hampshire boasts the fastest growing economy east of the Mississippi, Unemployment is at 3 percent. That's the national low.

Not surprisingly, Humphrey, a quiet man whose glowering looks remind one of that saying about Calvinists--that they were obsessed by the thought that someone somewhere might be having a good time--has spouted "Reagan" at every opportunity. In a certain sense, Humphrey doesn't need to do that he was a member of the New Right long before Jerry Falwell got the notion that the choice of two Supreme Court justices was up to him. Humphrey even voted against President Reagan's first budget. He thought the budget cuts should be bigger.

Humphrey's campaign aides admit that he isn't a fiery, exciting campaigner, but in a year of Reaganism, backing the Great Communicator to the hilt may just do the trick. His edge in campaign financing won shurt either; in what is the most expensive campaign in New Hampshire history. Humphrey will spend about $1.2 million, $300,000 more than his opposition.

D'AMOURS HAS found only one strategy to counter the good vibrations favoring his opponent--outflank him on the right. His stump speeches have emphasized votes on which he, and not Humphrey, voted with Reagan. Need we even note that the word "Mondale" has temporarily slipped D'Amours' memory? Yes, folks, these are bad times for the Democrats.

But then this is New Hampshire, where there is no income or sales tax, and where a serious candidate for Governor has to take "the pledge" not to create any. And D'Amours posseses an asset that may be politics' closest equivalent to three good relief pitchers--momentum.

D'Amours has been grinding his way up in the Potts. Most show him a point or two behind Humphrey, with enough undecided voters to make the gap irrelevant. The fate of this race will likely be decided by last-minute voting booth decisions, and perhaps the Thursday visit of the Godhead himself, President Reagan, which will be thoroughly televised by New Hamshire stations.

While standing on his own record as a legislator who brings home the bacon for New Hampshire. D'Amours has tried to dismember Humphrey's reputation as a "skinflint" (D'Amours himself refuses junkets and pay raises voted by Congress). Last week the Democrat claimed that Humphrey, in his position on a military preparedness subcommittee, spent "$78 billion in five hours and 49 minutes. That's three million a second."

But the strangest charge of all in the campaign, the revelation of Mrs. Humphrey's membership in the American College of Orgonimists, a group whose philosophy is descended from the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, came from columnist Jack Anderson. Humphrey, admitting his wife's membership, floundered in his attempt to reconcile the Orgonimists with his Moral Majority purse-strings. First he spat at the press for bastardizing Orgonomic thought, then he blamed D'Amours for dirty campaigning. D'Amours said he had nothing to do with it, and promptly shut up.

When he's not on the defensive, Humphrey has been trying to convince New Hampshire voters that D'Amours has pulled a fast one on them--that he's convinced them he's not a liberal while he plots the revolution behind his back. Truth is, D'Amours is about as conservative a Democrat as you'll find, outside of the South. If he pulls an upset on Tuesday, it won't mark a shift towards liberalism in New Hampshire--you can expect all the final clubs to admit women before that happens. But if it nudges the Democrats over 50 seats in the Senate, few members of that beleagured party will care that New Hampshire lives in the political dark ages. The Democrats, from their perches on committee chairs, will be too busy welcoming D'Amours

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