Becoming 'Dem-ato'

Schumer Morphs Into Alfonse: Fires Assault Weapon at Green, and Praises His Own Miss

Hynes's committee has $50,000 in the bank as of the latest filing. He wasted $200,000 for a 1997 reelection campaign though he had no real opponent. Until Ross and Silver rescued his campaign, Hynes blew so hot and cold that he missed his own county party's recent annual dinner dance and disappeared periodically from the campaign trail, sometimes on trips to Florida. LaRocca says Ross chose to put Hynes on the ballot and not him because she only wanted ''the weakest'' male alternative to Vallone to qualify. Hynes's 22 per cent showing in the 1994 attorney general race--after petitioning to get on the ballot--cost incumbent Oliver Koppell the primary, nominated Karen Burstein, and ultimately elected Dennis Vacco. He may now repeat the calamity.

Yet Shelly Silver, the most powerful Democrat at this convention, steered key votes in Erie and Onondaga counties to Hynes. Steve Paquette, the Onondaga leader who's a counsel on the assembly payroll, snared six votes for Hynes, conceding in a Voice interview that he ''had the impression the speaker was not unhappy'' with his performance. The state committeewoman from Silver's Lower East Side club, Ruth Bekritsky, voted for Hynes. Nominally neutral, Silver told the Voice right after the vote that he was pleased that Democrats would have choices.

Vallone manager Kevin McCabe told delegates that ''it would be a major benefit for real Democrats to have a clear Vallone-Ross runoff,'' emphasizing that such a race was the surest way of avoiding a November catastrophe, with Ross as the potential biggest Democratic loser in decades. McCabe recalled a 2 a.m. conversation the night before the vote with Erie County leader Steve Pigeon, pleading with him to ''drive the party in a new direction.'' Instead, despite the fact that every important Democratic elected official in Erie was backing Vallone, Pigeon delivered the decisive votes for Hynes.

''Maybe, like a drunk,'' says McCabe, ''we have to hit rock bottom before we can start rehabilitating ourselves.''

Research: Matthew Dalton

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