Fonz's Greatest Hits

But D'Amato can't use everything in his 1980 bag of tricks. While he was death-baiting Javits, the Fonz made sure to point out that Holtzman, then 39, was still single and therefore, ''how would she know about the cost of raising a family?'' A year after running this none-too-subtle game, D'Amato's wife separated from him, calling into question the Republican's own devotion to family matters.

While D'Amato has become more adept at the art of the subtle smear, he can still be guilty of excess. To some, D'Amato's labeling of Schumer as a ''Brooklyn liberal'' appears to be an attempt to slyly remind upstate voters that he is the only Catholic in the race, nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Coupled with the state GOP's commercial featuring a New York City shark treating upstate as chum, a viewer can't help but sense that the GOP is slyly delivering another message. The shark represents Sheldon Silver and other predatory, money-grubbing downstate Democrats, though the assembly speaker is not on any November ballot. Perhaps Silver's alliterative name just sounds better than that of statewide ticket-topper Peter Vallone. Or maybe not.

D'Amato cannot expect Schumer to hand him an issue like Bob Abrams did in 1992. The congressman will not be calling the senator a fascist or any other supposed anti-Italian slur (w-p, d-go, guin-a, etc.). Sure, Schumer has called D'Amato a liar, but where is the news in that? Geez, that barb is so 1986. While D'Amato has griped about this supposed Schumer ''character'' assassination, a voter has to wonder: how can you kill something that doesn't actually exist?

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