While the candidates in the contentious battle for Senate wage all-out war for the Jewish vote, sparks have yet to fly in the governor’s race, in which Republican George Pataki is far outpacing Democratic challenger Peter Vallone.
The more voters become disenchanted with the Democrats and Republicans in this year of political turmoil, the better Thomas Golisano likes it. The Rochester millionaire, who founded the state’s Independence Party chapter in 1994, draws his core support from those who are fed up with the status quo. Golisano won about 217,000 votes in his ’94 bid for governor, and enrollment in the party is on the rise, growing 13 percent last year in New York City.
When The Jewish Week first spoke with Bruce Blakeman in June, shortly after his nomination as the Republican candidate for state comptroller, he had difficulty making his case against Democratic incumbent H. Carl McCall, preferring to talk about his own qualifications.
In his suite high above the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Tuesday night, Peter Vallone was surrounded by numerous Jewish politicians, communal leaders and Democratic activists who came to wish him well.
“He’s been a strong supporter of Jewish causes and a worthy candidate” said one official of a Jewish organization, who asked not to be identified, of the City Council speaker who was overwhelmingly nominated — with 65 percent of the Jewish vote — to challenge Republican Gov. George Pataki. “This is going to be a good race.”
It’s 8 a.m. at the Sheepshead Bay Road subway stop in Brooklyn, and most of the commuters rushing to catch the D local get only a brief glimpse of the thin, young man handing out fliers from a Nobody Beats the Wiz shopping bag.
“Good morning, ladies and gentleman,” says Anthony David Weiner, candidate for Congress, identified to the voters with a large placard borne by a young girl in a long skirt. “Welcome to the newly renovated Sheepshead Bay Road Station — newly renovated, thanks to your City Councilman.”
Last May, Evan Davis angrily withdrew his name from the roster seeking delegates’ votes at the state Democratic nominating conference. Davis, who is seeking his party’s nomination for state attorney general, complained that money was poisoning the process and accused one of his rivals, Eliot Spitzer, of using personal funds to win the support of the county leaders who control many of the delegates’ votes.
James Larocca, unknown and underfunded, is a prohibitive underdog in the Democratic primary for governor. “We’re broke and proud of it,” he boasts. Larocca recently completed a petition drive to get on the ballot after failing to gather enough support at the statewide nominating convention for an automatic spot.
Catherine Abate, one of four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, has a varied 25-year record in administrative positions, including city probation commissioner, chair of the state Crime Victims Board, deputy commissioner of the state Division of Human Rights and city corrections commissioner. She was elected to the state Senate in 1994, representing parts of central and lower Manhattan.
As a public-interest lawyer, consumer affairs commissioner and public advocate of New York, Mark Green has a track record of working on Jewish issues, from advocacy of German reparations for East bloc Holocaust survivors abroad to kosher-food price protection in New York.
In his second bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Green is advocating for Jonathan Pollard, the former naval intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel.
The acquittal of Dov Hikind on fraud and corruption charges this week all but guarantees that he will remain a fixture in the Assembly for as long as he chooses. But the true test of his political future will come in the next few months as local and statewide races heat up.
Throngs of raucous supporters gathered around Hikind during a triumphant press conference Tuesday, the day after a jury cleared him of any wrongdoing, as the veteran Brooklyn lawmaker announced that he is running unopposed for re-election.