Poll: Chuck Could Beat Pataki
09/26/03
Staff Writer
All those Sunday press conferences must be paying off. Sen. Charles Schumer, the Brooklyn Democrat who became a statewide official in 1998 with his upset of Republican Al D'Amato, is emerging as one of the most popular figures in the Empire State, according to the latest poll from Marist College. The survey of 912 voters found that Schumer would beat Gov. George Pataki either in a 2004 contest for Schumer's Senate seat (55-39 percent) or in a gubernatorial matchup (50-43 percent). About 40 percent of respondents said Pataki, the state's top Republican, was doing a good or excellent job. But more than half gave a thumbs-up to Schumer, who's on TV each Sunday night talking about everything from bank fees to foreign policy on Saudi Arabia. "His approval is broadly based," said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff. "He does decently throughout the state, across party lines, very much the way Senator [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan used to do." Miringoff said Schumer's popularity stems from attentiveness to middle-class concerns in all parts of the state. "That pays dividends," he said. The poll gives Schumer, who is said to be toying with a gubernatorial run, a better chance to unseat Pataki than Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, also a Democrat, who has all but declared his intention to run. Should he seek a fourth term, Pataki would beat Spitzer, 50-41 percent, or 2000 Democratic dropout Andrew Cuomo by a larger margin, 58-34 percent. But the news for Schumer isnít all good. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani would narrowly beat him in a Senate matchup, 51-45 percent, according to the poll. (The poll's margin of error, 3.5. percent, suggests an even tighter race.) A fight against Giuliani, who dropped out of a 2000 Senate bid, could particularly hurt Schumer with Jewish voters, 70 percent of whom liked him in the Marist poll. Giuliani also enjoys overwhelming support in the community. The former mayor would do far better taking on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, beating her 57-40 percent in a 2006 matchup, the poll suggests. If re-elected next year, Schumer could run for governor in 2006 without giving up his Senate seat, making the bid an attractive, risk-free proposition, especially if Republicans retain control of the Senate. But Josh Isay, who ran Schumer's 1998 campaign, insisted the senator is not thinking about 2006. "He's focused on running for the Senate and delivering for the people of New York," said Isay, who remains an adviser to Schumer.   If you've got what it takes to manage Governor Pataki's affairs in the Jewish community, crank out your resume. Liaisons Herbert Berman and Greg Menken have left the building. Berman recently resigned as executive director of the governor's community affairs office after he was named president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. Menken, a deputy director, will be opening a New York office for the Republican Jewish Coalition. "I'm still deeply involved with the governor and the Jewish community," said Berman, a former city councilman from Brooklyn who joined Pataki's staff in 2002, just as the governor was launching his re-election bid. Jeff Wiesenfeld, a former executive assistant to Pataki who is involved in filling the post, said it was a difficult task. "There are very few people who can do the job well, representing the elected official and at the same time bringing the concerns of the Jewish community [to the official] without being apologists," said Wiesenfeld. "Those who can do [it] are mostly not available."   Councilman David Yassky of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been fighting the state Department of Education to secure $250,000 for a Universal Pre-K grant to a chasidic school in his district. So far, no dice. The department says it cannot approve the state-funded grant because the school, Yeshiva Yesodei Torah, segregates boys and girls. Nonsense, says Yassky, noting that the city is considering same-sex classrooms at a public school in the Bronx and has opened an all-gay high school this year, which he supports. "Itís very disappointing that the Department of Education is refusing to provide pre-K to poor children whose only choice is to go to a school that is going to be sensitive to their needs," said Yassky, a freshman Democrat. "They have not approved a single provider that can service the Jewish community of Williamsburg." The program would provide stipends of $3,200 for 80 of 200 pre-K students. A spokeswoman for the DOE, Marge Feinberg, had no immediate comment Tuesday.   Rockland County Assemblyman Ryan Karben is calling on the State University of New York to cancel Yom Kippur and Good Friday classes at its branch in Purchase. "SUNY is sending the wrong message," Karben wrote in a letter to Chancellor Robert King. "Other institutions might follow its lead and make it more difficult for people of faith to observe their holy days." The academic calendar at the Westchester campus calls for classes on the two holidays, while also eliminating vacation days to streamline the calendar. A graduate student, Ashley Beards of Armonk, intends to file a discrimination complaint, according to Karben. Dave Henahan, a spokesman for SUNY, said "the administration and faculty of each campus have a responsibility to offer each student the opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirements he or she may have missed because of their religious beliefs."   In other campus news, Governor Pataki signed legislation this week requiring all universities to inform incoming students about bias crime prevention. The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Kenneth LaValle, a Suffolk Republican, said the measure would "establish clear, uniform procedures for all colleges and universities to follow when dealing with an alleged bias crime." When it takes effect early next year, the law will require colleges to inform students about applicable anti-bias laws and penalties, college procedures, counseling and support services and security procedures.

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10/01/2009 - 11:25

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