William Lucas, a Democrat turned Republican, won Michigan's GOP gubernatorial nomination and a chance to become the nation's first elected black governor and Rep. Mark Siljander, R-Mich., became the first incumbent to lose a primary this year.
Lucas, a 56-year-old Wayne County executive, defeated Dick Chrysler, a wealthy business who had led through most of the campaign. Lucas will face Gov. James Blanchard in November.
With 78 percent of the vote counted, Lucas had more than 43 percent of the ballots, followed by big-spending Brighton businessman Dick Chrysler with 34 percent. The other two candidates trailed badly.
Siljander, a conservative who asked the district's fundamentalist ministers to help him in his campaign, was upset by Fred Upton, a protege of former budget director David Stockman in Michigan's 4th District. Siljander succeeded Stockman when he joined the Reagan administration in 1981.
Just before the election, Siljander distributed a recorded message to the ministers, calling on them to help 'break the back of Satan' by aiding his re-election. He later conceded the race to Upton.
Elsewhere, the big favorites, incumbents and former office holders, rolled to one-sided victories as Kansas, Michigan and Missouri broke a month-long drought in the primary season.
Senate Republican leader Robert Dole, considered a possible candidate for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination, won his primary with 84 percent of the vote despite a limited amount of time spent campaigning. He is heavily favored to win the general election.
In Missouri, Democratic Lt. Gov. Harriet Woods and former Republican Gov. Christopher Bond paused briefly in their months-long battle for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Thomas Eagleton, D-Mo., to swamp token opposition in their primaries.
Michigan Democratic Gov. James Blanchard, seeking a second term, crushed Henry Wilson, a follower of radical politician Lyndon LaRouche, by winning more than 90 percent of the votes.
Three Detroit television stations projected Lucas the winner a short time after the polls closed but Lucas refused to claim the win, saying only, 'We have always been confident.'
Chrysler refused to concede defeat before retiring for the evening.
But Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich., declared that 'for Michigan and America, Bill Lucas is the right man at the right time.'
Vander Jagt said Lucas represented a 'historic opportunity' for the election of a black governor and added, 'I am proud this governor will be a Republican governor.'
Lucas, who deserted the Democratic Party last year and was welcomed by the GOP with fanfare at the White House, would be the second major party black candidate for governor this November. Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley earlier this year clinched the Democratic nomination in California.
While Lucas or Bradley could become the country's first elected black governor, neither would be the first black to sit in a statehouse. P.B.S. Pinchback, a black, held office as governor of Louisiana for six weeks in 1872 after appointment by the state legislature in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.
In other Kansas races, state House Speaker Mike Hayden narrowly defeated Wichita businessman Larry Jones in a seven-candidate field for the GOP governor's nomination. With 80 percent of the precincts counted, Hayden led 34 percent to 32 percent but most of the uncounted vote was in Hayden's rural strongholds.
Lt. Gov. Thomas Docking, son and grandson of Kansas governors who is trying to become a third-generation governor, had no opposition in the Democratic primary.
In the Kansas Democratic race for the Senate, Guy MacDonald, an unemployed steelworker with 27 percent of the vote, pulled ahead of Darrell Ringer, a bankrupt farmer and farm activist with 26 percent, and appeared headed for victory and an uphill battle against Dole in November.