Clinton Aides Work N.Y. Gov. Race
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ There appears to be growing evidence that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may support New York Comptroller H. Carl McCall in the Democratic race for governor, despite her public neutrality.
McCall is battling Andrew Cuomo, a federal housing secretary under former President Clinton, in the race to challenge Republican Gov. George Pataki’s bid for a third term.
Last week, aides to the former first lady said she had given the go-ahead for her top fund-raiser, Vivian Santora, to go to work for the McCall team.
Then, on Wednesday, McCall campaign spokesman Steven Greenberg said a former top political aide in the Clinton White House and operative in Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Eric Eve, had joined the comptroller’s campaign as a senior adviser.
The senator’s top political adviser, Harold Ickes, has been unofficially advising McCall for months, Greenberg said Wednesday. Another top McCall aide, Barry Sample, was a key operative in Sen. Clinton’s 2000 campaign.
Both the senator and former President Clinton have said they planned to remain neutral through the Sept. 10 primary and then campaign for the winner. Recent polls have shown Pataki with big leads over both Democrats.
The New York Times, quoting unidentified Clinton advisers, reported Wednesday that the Clintons have concluded that a victory by McCall could help her political prospects and those of other New York Democrats.
There is increasing speculation that the senator is eyeing a run for the White House in 2008 if the Democrats fail to take it back in 2004.
The Clintons are in a tough position since Cuomo, the elder son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was President Clinton’s housing secretary for the final four years of his administration.
``I like and admire both Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo, and feel indebted to both of them, for different reasons,″ the former president told the Times.
Still, McCall was one of the senator’s earliest and most vocal backers as she prepared for her Senate race two years ago. He also is seeking to become the first black candidate elected governor of New York and black voters have always been a key constituency for the Clintons.
Also Wednesday, a state judge threw billionaire B. Thomas Golisano’s running mate off the ballot for the Conservative party gubernatorial nomination.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas Keegan said petitions filed to put the Daniel Mahony on the ballot were invalid. The petitions had been challenged by lawyers for Pataki and Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue, his running mate.
Golisano’s chief political strategist, Roger Stone, said an appeal was planned.
Golisano is challenging Pataki for the Independence ballot line and has mounted a write-in effort to wrest the Conservative Party nomination away from the governor.
Unlike most other states, New York allows major party candidates to count votes they also receive on minor party ballot lines. That can be crucial in a close race. But for Pataki to be able to count such votes, both he and Donohue must survive the primary challenges.
Democrats have been counting on Golisano’s candidacy to hurt Pataki’s bid for a third term.