Former space shuttle commander Jack Lousma, who won a fierce primary battle, said today he is asking President Reagan and fellow former astronauts to help in his general election campaign against Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
Lousma defeated former Rep. Jim Dunn by a margin of about 2-1 in Tuesday's primary. He will face Levin, D-Mich., in November.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Dunn had 197,915 votes -- or 38 percent -- and Lousma 324,179, or 62 percent. The former astronaut won impressively across the state, except in Dunn's home base of central lower Michigan.
The former astronaut began his first day as the GOP nominee by shaking hands at dawn with workers at the Great Lakes Steel plant at suburban Ecorse, Mich. Later, he told reporters he was making the request for a Reagan visit to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
'I hope the president will be involved, but I don't know what his plans are,' Lousma said.
Lousma also said several former space colleagues would visit the state on his behalf, including Alan Bean and Eugene Cernan.
The former astronaut's campaign with Dunn for the GOP nomination was one of the state's most bitter in recent years. But unlike that race - which Lousma termed a 'one-way mudslinging contest' -- the nominee said his campaign with Levin would be 'strong and clean.'
'With this victory we have launched a Michigan mission into orbit,' the former astronaut told cheering supporters in Ann Arbor Tuesday night. 'All systems are go. In November we will land in Washington and the U.S. Senate.'
Dunn, who conceded in Lansing a short time after Lousma claimed victory, said the loss probably will end his career in electoral politics.
Republican leaders in the state claim Levin has the lowest approval rating of any Senate Democrat up for re-election -- a 'slightly positive' rating of 52.3. They say the incumbent, a target of the national Republican Party, is too liberal for his Midwestern constituency and can be defeated.
Lousma's victory in Michigan climaxed a lively, and often bitter, primary battle.
Dunn, who served one term in Congress, refused to back down from calling Lousma a liar. Lousma, a member of the second crew to occupy the Skylab space station in 1973 and who commanded the third flight of the space shuttle Columbia in 1982, said Dunn has distorted the facts in a negative campaign.
A Lousma campaign surrogate Monday called Dunn a 'saboteur,' a 'demagogue' and a 'braggart.'
However, following his loss, Dunnsaid he will campaign for Lousma if asked, but said his opponent needs to brush up a bit on economic issues if he is to successfully challenge Levin.
In Missouri, where GOP Gov. Christopher Bond is barred from seeking another term, the primary campaign for governor was the costliest in state history, with candidates spending more than $4 million.
On the GOP side, the race was often bitter between Republicans Ashcroft and St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary, with both sides spending more than a million dollars each.
With 3,798 of 4,120 precincts reporting, Ashcroft dominated McNary, grabbing 241,163 votes or 68 percent of the vote compared to McNary's 114,661 votes or 32 percent.
On the Democratic side, with 3,959 of 4,120 precincts reporting, Rothman racked up 286,167 votes or 56 percent of the vote over opponents, state Treasurer Mel Carnahan, who had 102,552 votes or 20 percent of the vote, and state Sen. Norman Merrell with 94,343 votes or 19 percent.
In Kansas, Nancy Kassebaum, one of two women in the Senate, was unopposed for renomination and will face Democrat James Maher in November.
Mrs. Kassebaum, the daughter of Republican patriarch Alf Landon, is strongly favored to win that contest.
With no Kansas House member facing an opponent in Tuesday primaries, attention focused on the hard-fought battle in the 3rd District for the seat being vacated by veteran GOP Rep. Larry Winn Jr.
State Sen. Jan Meyers emerged from a field of five Republicans to win his party's nomination, and Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Jack Reardon beat former Spring Hill Mayor C. Bertly Masterson.
In Missouri, Democratic Rep. Alan Wheat, who represents the 5th District and is one of two black congressman in the state, fended off two primary challengers to win renomination.
In Michigan, GOP Rep. Mark Siljander, 33, an arch-conservative, born-again Christian, staved off challenger Tim Horan.