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.
Turn on the TV in Brooklyn or Long Island and you’ll see former mayor Ed Koch praising Sen. Al D’Amato as “a real mensch.” Or you may see Holocaust survivor Estelle Sapir ask God to bless the Republican for helping her retrieve her father’s plundered fortune from Swiss bankers.
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.”
There won’t be much of a line at polling booths statewide for Tuesday’s primary. But get up early if you live in a Jewish neighborhood. “Turnout is likely to be very soft among registered Democrats,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the polling institute at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. “We expect 20 to 25 percent. But some groups, most notably Jews, are likely to comprise upward of 30 percent of those who show up.”
Jewish and black leaders welcomed the investigation this week of the violence at Saturday’s youth rally in Harlem. Sixteen police officers were injured, one seriously, when efforts to disperse the rally at its court-ordered conclusion time of 4 p.m. were met with resistance from participants. Five civilians were also injured, and one man was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to police.
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.