Poll: 60 Percent of Voters Won't Give Condit Their Vote Next Year

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Although 77 percent of voters in Gary Condit's San Joaquin Valley district say he is doing a good job, nearly 60 percent say they won't be voting for the congressman from Modesto in 2002, according to a San Jose Mercury News poll released Sunday.

Police sources in Washington, D.C., have said Condit, 53, has admitted to an affair with missing U.S Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy of Modesto. Levy, 24, has been missing for more than two months.

But what apparently bothers voters most is not that Condit, a married man, may have had an affair with Levy, but rather the potentially illegal cover-up on his part, the Mercury News reported.

While more than a third of the 18th District voters polled said Condit should resign, that figure jumps to 55 percent if it's found Condit asked flight attendant Ann Marie Smith to lie about an alleged affair between the two.

Of the 62 percent of voters who said they voted for Condit in 2000, only 36 percent confirmed they would vote for him again next year. Many polled said the reason behind the change of heart was that Condit allegedly tried to get Smith to conceal their relationship.

"The fact that he would try to coerce someone into not telling the truth to the police ... seems to be a lack of respect for the law," Democrat Carol A. Vinding, 57, a Modesto teacher who had voted for Condit told the Mercury News.

While only 39 percent said they are bothered by Condit's relationship with Levy, 49 percent said they are very troubled by the congressman's delay in admitting his affair with the intern -- nine weeks after she vanished.

"Having an affair is not the issue here," Kathleen Kubo, 47, said. "His actions have prolonged this investigation and we really have to wonder about his involvement in it, in her disappearance, and that's why I think he shouldn't be representing us." Kubo, a Democrat who wants Condit to quit, is an administrative assistant with a school district in Winton.

Many Republicans surveyed said they have voted for Condit, but are unhappy with recent events.

Republican voter Robert Bisnett said Condit has not "lived up to his family man persona."

"Gary appears to be somewhat of a hypocrite because he castigated Clinton for his actions and he's turned around and doing the same thing, not being up front," Bisnett said, citing the impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.

Bisnett, 51, is a sales representative who lives outside Merced. He went to college with Condit and the congressman later helped his son get an appointment at the Air Force Academy.

In fact, about 30 percent of those surveyed said Condit had helped them or someone they knew. Those not helped by Condit were twice as likely to say he should resign, the poll showed.

Should Condit decide to seek re-election, the next primary is not until March 5, 2002. The next general election is November 5, 2002.

The poll of 400 people who voted in the November election was conducted Thursday and Friday by McGuire Research of Denver. The margin of error is five percentage points either way.

Neither Condit's spokeswoman nor his attorney could be reached Saturday for comment on the poll's findings, the Mercury News reported.