The Last Reformer?

Mark Green's Senate Campaign Ignores the Isms (as in Leftism)

Green claims his principles have remained the same, it's his tactics that have changed. "Look at two of the most successful politicians in recent years, Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Each has stressed performance, not labels, which is what I'm doing in my Senate race. The public does not think of an 'ism' when it thinks of me." Green says his priorities as a senator would be campaign finance reform, a consumer HMO "bill of rights," and a broader federal role in protecting children. He says there's a marked contrast between the Mark Green of today and the one in 1986.

"As a candidate, the difference is night and day," Green now says. "In 1986, I was an unknown without funds and no public record of accomplishment. Today, I have a widely known public record and 22,000 donors." In the 1986 campaign, D'Amato shrewdly made sure that his two debates with Green had a small audience. "This year, he'll probably be urging debates, because it will be a nip-and-tuck election," says Green.

But what of debates featuring the Democrats? Besides Monday's upstate debate, so far voters have been subjected to lackluster candidate forums, which have come about because of prodding by Geraldine Ferraro, who wants her opponents to sign a pledge saying in effect they would never criticize her.

"It's uncomfortable competing with her," Green says. Like Ferraro, Green cohosted CNN's Crossfire in the early '80s, and threw a few jabs at his "on the left" successor. "I do find it curious that she cited her experience on Crossfire as a credential to run for the Senate," he says. "If that were true, then Pat Buchanan should be president. I regard my Crossfire experience as valuable, but it's not a stepping stone."

What's shaping up to be the biggest stepping stone to the Senate these days is access to money, but Green downplays the issue. "At the end of the day, you need to raise enough money," he acknowledges, as he prepares to schmooze at a swanky affair at a midtown hotel. "The nominee is going to be chosen not by donors, but by the Democratic primary voters. Based on political history, I wouldn't bet against me."

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