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WASHINGTON-U.S. Rep. Mike Synar (D., Okla.) arguably had been the leading congressional nemesis of tobacco marketers. But now he is just another lame duck dumped by a restive electorate.

The 16-year congressman last week lost a Democratic primary race to a 71-year-old retired school principal. Virgil Cooper's campaign largely consisted of slipping business cards under the windshield wipers of parked cars.

Rep. Synar, 43, had been targeted for extinction in 1992 by the National Rifle Association, which aired TV, radio and print ads against him.

If Rep. Synar had won re-election, he was likely to assume the chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Transportation & Hazardous Materials, which oversees the Federal Trade Commission. The current chairman, Rep. Al Swift (D., Wash.), is retiring.

Ad community and tobacco marketers worried that Rep. Synar as chairman might spur the FTC to crack down on tobacco ads. His defeat does not necessarily improve the outlook, however. If they win re-election, Reps. Cardiss Collins (D., Ill.) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) are in line for the chairmanship. Both have taken anti-advertising stances on various issues

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