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
"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."
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.