N.Y. Senate race could be a wild one
Another fight brewing in Pennsylvania's 10th C.D.
By Stuart Rothenberg
January 13, 1999
Are those rumors, boosted by the comments of New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli, true? Will first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton follow the example of brother Hugh Rodham (who ran in Florida four years ago) and run for the U.S. Senate?
The only sure thing to be deduced from all the talk about Mrs. Clinton jumping into the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) is that there is no 800-pound Democrat waiting in the wings in the Empire State. What's more, the laundry list of possible candidates is suddenly starting to shorten.
Moynihan's favorite candidate, state Comptroller Carl McCall, announced at the end of December that he would take a pass in 2000. Then, another oft-mentioned possibility, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo, announced this past week that he would not run. In between those two announcements, Cuomo's brother-in-law, Robert Kennedy Jr., also took himself out of the equation.
So the list is now down to Reps. Nita Lowey of Westchester, Louise Slaughter of Rochester and Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan, state Assemblyman Michael Bragman from Syracuse (who some insiders believe could surprise everyone if he decides to go for it), New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, the Rev. Al Sharpton (a candidate in 1992 and 1994) and (okay, they're mentioned by everyone else), Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, businessman Michael Bloomberg, actor Alec Baldwin, George Stephanopoulos, and publisher John F. Kennedy, Jr. The last five names probably reflect the media's desire for political "stars" more than anything else.
There's little doubt that the 800-pound gorilla on the GOP side -- New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- has been a factor in all Democratic decisions so far. While Reps. Peter King and Rick Lazio, both of Long Island, continue to be mentioned, it's doubtful either could best the mayor in a primary. Nor would Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta or Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.
Perhaps the growing sense of momentum around Giuliani was behind New Jersey Sen. (and head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) Torricelli's prediction on January 3 that Mrs. Clinton would make the race. Why not? All she has to do, according to state election law, is move out of the White House and establish residency in the state at the time of her announcement.
As of today, the first lady's office and Democratic insiders are clearly saying there's nothing to the rumor and Torricelli's office has issued a statement saying that he was just speculating. But once you're on the laundry list, your name tends to stay there. Just ask Colin Powell.
Pennsylvania 10th District: time for a rematch
Newly elected Rep. Don Sherwood, 57, has barely taken office as the successor to 34-year incumbent congressman Joe McDade, but talk among Democratic insiders is that last year's Democratic nominee, Scranton attorney Pat Casey, 33, is all but certain to try again in 2000.
Given Sherwood's victory margin of just over 500 votes, Pennsylvania Democrats believe that the 2000 race is much more doable, especially with the anticipated higher turnout for both the presidential race and a potentially strong challenge to conservative GOP freshman Rick Santorum, who is seeking a second term.
The key to Sherwood's victory undoubtedly was a great turnout effort in the rural (and strongly GOP) counties of the 10th while losing the Democratic stronghold of Lackawanna County by just more than 18,000 votes. Conversely, Democrats knew that their key to victory, based on an analysis of previous statewide and presidential campaigns here, was an operative rule of thumb that Casey could win if he beat Sherwood in Lackawanna County by about 20,000 votes.
With 1998 turnout in Lackawanna County hitting only about 52 percent, Democrats, who were counting on about 55 percent, think they can do better next time.
Given the characteristics of the 10th (particularly its huge elderly population), the parameters of the 2000 race are likely to be a rerun of last year, with jobs, Social Security, Medicare and health care likely to dominate the race next time.
With the passing from the scene of both Speaker Newt Gingrich and Speaker-to-be Bob Livingston, Sherwood did not receive his promised seat on the Appropriations Committee, the venue from which McDade looked out for the 10th's interests for decades. Instead, the freshman Republican will have to see how much mileage he can get out of seats on Transportation, Resources and National Security. The last should position him to take care of the area's largest employer, the Tobyhanna Army Depot.
Look for another fight in the 10th.
Wednesday January 13, 1999
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