Freind Wins, Clark Loses In Suburbs

Posted: May 16, 1990

State Rep. Stephen F. Freind won a narrow victory yesterday in his Republican primary race against a well-funded abortion-rights candidate, newcomer Ellen Fisher, while anti-abortion Rep. James H. Clark lost to Ellen Harley of Villanova.

With all votes counted, Freind won the toughest election of his career when he defeated Fisher by a 5-4 ratio in Delaware County's 166th District, according to unofficial results.

"It's not a landslide, but it's a substantial victory," Freind said. He called the anti-abortion cause "the greatest movement on the face of the earth."

In Montgomery County, Clark, a freshman legislator, lost to Harley, an abortion-rights activist, by an 8-7 ratio with all votes counted.

In Delaware County, House Republican leader Matthew J. Ryan of Media defeated abortion-rights GOP challenger Edward M. Corse by a 2-1 ratio with 30 of 35 precincts reporting.

Freind, Clark and Ryan had all supported the controversial state Abortion Rights Control Act of 1989. Their opponents drew large numbers of volunteers and campaign contributions from abortion-rights groups.

Fisher raised more money than Freind, mostly from Freind's enemies in the abortion-rights movement and the state trial lawyers association, who are angry at Freind's leading role in the auto-insurance reform law.

Fisher told a crowd of supporters, "Please don't be sad tonight. . . . We had hundreds of volunteers who believed that Pennsylvania needed just one less friend."

Freind predicted victory in November against Democrat Allen R. Polsky in his district, which consists of Haverford Township and parts of Marple and Radnor Townships.

Aside from the 166th District, where officials said election turnout was about 50 percent, and a few other scattered pockets, voters in the rest of the Pennsylvania suburbs produced an extremely light turnout, officials said.

In Bucks County, election director Charles Hoffman said he expected about a 20 percent turnout, just above the record low of 19.3 percent in the 1985 primary.

In Clark's upscale 149th District, which consists of Upper and Lower Merion and the Borough of Bridgeport, voter turnout was heavy in the Bryn Mawr

College precinct, officials said.

GOP committeeman Frank Itgen said, "Traditionally, the students only get excited about the presidential election. But the burning issue" of abortion brought them out, he said.

Harley claimed victory last night, saying abortion played "a major role" in the campaign.

Harley added, "People in this district are very concerned about government intervention in personal and family decision-making, and they came out and showed their concern."

Harley faces another abortion-rights supporter, Democrat Howard Harrison, in the fall.

Ryan defeated Corse, a Newtown Township supervisor, in central Delaware County's 168th District.

Corse lost to Ryan two years ago but was being heavily supported by abortion-rights groups this time.

Ryan said he painted himself as a moderate on abortion, despite his heavily anti-abortion voting record during 28 years in the legislature.

"I'm really tired of the issue," Ryan said during the campaign.

Corse said his votes proved "there are people out there who disagree with Mr. Ryan."

In Delaware County's 161st District, Republican incumbent Thomas P. Gannon easily defeated Blanche "Rusty" Kauffman, a Widener University psychology professor who is treasurer of the Delaware County chapter of the National Organization for Women. Unofficial returns gave Gannon a victory by a ratio of 6-1.

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