Schumer topples D'Amato in New York Senate race
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, November 3) -- In a huge victory for the Democrats, Democratic Rep. Charles Schumer has bested three-term Sen. Alfonse D'Amato in New York's Senate race.
Going into Election Day the race was considered neck-and-neck, but CNN called the race right after the 9 p.m. EST poll closing.
The D'Amato-Schumer contest was one of 1998's most high profile and nastiest races; it may have hit its low point late in the campaign when D'Amato called Schumer a "putzhead" in a private meeting with Jewish supporters. The senator later apologized.
"Putz" is Yiddish for penis and is used to deride someone as a fool. D'Amato is Roman Catholic, while Schumer is Jewish.
Their first direct debate in late October was a feisty affair, with D'Amato branding Schumer a diehard liberal and Schumer accusing D'Amato of being a liar, a frequent theme of Schumer's campaign.
D'Amato attacked his opponent's attendance record as a member of Congress, citing more than 100 missed votes in the House this year. "If most people missed as much work as you do, they'd be out, they wouldn't be looking for a promotion," the Republican senator said.
Schumer in turn repeatedly went back to his chief charge against D'Amato: that the senator is a liar.
"This election may come down to one word. ... The word is 'trust,'" Schumer said.
Schumer won his party's nomination by beating New York City Public Advocate Mark Green and former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro in the primary.
While the Democrats fought among themselves during the primary season, D'Amato moved forcefully into campaign mode, pushing issues like breast cancer, the environment, an end to certain subway and bus transfers for suburbanites and what the Swiss did to valuables taken from Jews during the Holocaust.
D'Amato portrayed himself as delivering for New York, while deriding Schumer as a New York City liberal with no support upstate.
Schumer, in contrast, portrayed D'Amato as too conservative on issues like guns, abortion and Medicare.
Unlike D'Amato's previous opponents, Schumer, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, had the money and temperament to take the race right to the senator.
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg contributed to this report.
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