16. MASSACHUSETTS DEMOCRATS HOLD SOVIET-STYLE PRIMARY

Alwin E. Hopfmann, a 36-year-old chemistry teacher Sterling, Massachusetts, decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 1982.

As a Democrat, his opposition in the September primary would be formidable -- Ted Kennedy. Nonetheless he obtained the 10,000 signatures required by state law for a nominating petition and filed the proper papers.

He never found out how formidable an opponent Kennedy might be, however, since on May 22 the Democratic state convention suddenly adopted a new rule stating that a candidate needed endorsement from at least 15 percent of the convention delegates. Now this proved to be formidable; not surprisingly, Hopfmann received something under two percent of the votes and state officials, yielding to the party charter, ruled him off the ballot. Kennedy ran unopposed.

Hopfmann took his grievance to the courts where the legal aspects ultimately will be decided. However, his attorney, Laurence A. Elgin, of Washington, D.C., feels there is another aspect to this story -- media coverage. Elgin is outraged by what he considers to be censorship of the story by the nation's liberal press.

In nominating the story, Elgin said "It is certainly apparent to us that because Edward Kennedy, who was the willing beneficiary of this unconstitutional maneuver, is perceived of by the press as being 'liberal' there is a vested interest in not seeing what actually happened in order to preserve pre-conceived perceptions. There is little doubt in our mind that if say, George Wallace, rather than Edward Kennedy, had been the beneficiary of these maneuvers there would have been a national hue and cry at this point."

Elgin supports his contention by citing editorial rejection at the Washington Post, the Christian science monitor, the Progressive, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and other publications he perceives as "liberal."

Meanwhile, as if to support Elgin's charges, conservative columnist James J. Kilpatrick wrote a column about the perceived injustice to Mr. Hopfman. The column generated the following comment in "Diana Hears," formerly published as "The Ear" in the Washington Post:

"MEDIA MORSELS ... Don't comb the OP for James J. Kilpatrick's column about the Demo who got sand-bagged by 'pols who are nurturing Edward M. Kennedy for the White House.' (His case is pending before the Supreme Court.) The Balto Sun played it with bells on, darlings, but the Posties squashed it."

SOURCES:

Baltimore Sun, 11/23/82, "Mr. Hopfmann Learns Massachusetts Monte," by James J. Kilpatrick; The Washington Times, 11/24/82, "Diana Hears!"; Laurence A. Elgin correspondence, 12/30/82.