Goodling Scores Decisive Primary Victory Despite Talk of Upset
The chairman of the House education committee last week easily cleared an aggressive primary challenge, winning handily despite opposition from term-limits supporters with deep pockets.
Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., won the right to represent his party on the November ballot, defeating a more conservative challenger, Charles L. Gerow, by collecting 68 percent of the 53,335 votes cast in his district's Republican primary on May 19.
The GOP nomination puts Mr. Goodling on the inside track to keep his seat in the heavily Republican area representing south-central Pennsylvania's 19th congressional district. Mr. Goodling, who has represented the district since 1975, will face Democratic Party activist Linda Ropp in the fall. He said during his primary campaign that if elected to a 13th term it would be his last. ("Goodling Sets His Sights on One More Term in the House," May 13, 1998.)
To win the GOP nomination, Mr. Goodling had to prove his conservative stripes against Mr. Gerow. Although he has taken moderate stances on many education issues throughout his career, in recent years Mr. Goodling has won the praise of conservatives for leading the fight to derail President Clinton's proposed national testing plan.
One week before the May 19 primary, a number of conservative groups--including the Eagle Forum, the Home School Legal Defense Association, and the Traditional Values Coalition--announced their support for the incumbent.
Mr. Goodling's supporters credit the support for helping to blunt the impact of $250,000 in radio and television advertisements purchased by term-limits supporters who opposed the long-timeincumbent.
ESEA Renewal Looms
For Mr. Goodling to remain the chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Republicans must retain their slim, 11-vote majority in the House in November.
If the Democrats retook the House, Rep. William L. Clay, D-Mo., would have the seniority to be chairman and Mr. Goodling would be demoted to ranking minority member .
Regardless of Mr. Goodling's title next year, assuming he is re-elected, many education lobbyists say they would welcome him back.
They say they need his experience on Capitol Hill as Congress reauthorizes Title I and the other programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The ESEA's funding authority will expire after fiscal 1999, which begins Oct. 1, but Congress may grant it a one-year extension while the members deliberate on how to change its programs, currently funded at almost $11 billion a year.
That time line means the bill would likely be rewritten before Mr. Goodling, a former teacher and superintendent, retired after the 2000 elections.
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 20