Rudy's Role Reversal

The Mayor's Flip-Flop on Aiding Vacco Recharges His GOP Enemies

Harding, who's closely aligned with mayoral wannabe Alan Hevesi, has publicly acknowledged that he's looking at ways to block Green. What no one's noticed except lawyers in Peter Vallone's office, however, is that under state law, Vallone would succeed Green as Public Advocate, giving the term-limited council speaker a comfortable niche he could conceivably occupy for the next nine years. If so, that makes the likelihood of Vallone using his considerable powers to aid a succession change doubtful. It also means that two powerful city Dems, Green and Vallone, may have a stake in the mayor's elevation to the Senate.

The stunning success of two new progressive parties, Working Families and Green, both of which gained ballot status for the first time in this election, also complicates the Senate race. If Harding does the predictable, and lends his line in 2000 directly or indirectly to Giuliani, he'll further diminish the Libs' already dubious progressive credentials, but this time in comparison with parties that may support Giuliani's Democratic opponent.

Spitzer's just-filed campaign disclosure forms add $2.2 million to the loans he'd already made to his 1998 campaign, bringing his total this year and in 1994 to an astounding $12.4 million. Since he has conceded that his father was playing a role in paying off these record-setting bank loans— despite state laws severely limiting his father's legal contributions— it was somewhat surprising to see Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau embracing Spitzer at the Waldorf victory party. Spitzer was once a bureau chief in Morgy's office, but the D.A. should be investigating the charges against Spitzer that even the Timesconceded had merit in an editorial endorsing him.

Morgenthau's conflict suggests that either a special prosecutor or Albany District Attorney Sol Greenberg, who was elected last year on the Democratic and Republican lines, should examine what appear to be violations of state election laws as well as other statutes.

The final bizarre note on Harding's recent gubernatorial candidate, Betsy McCaughey Ross, is that husband Wilbur, who pulled his big bucks out of her primary race and filed for divorce the day after the election, mysteriously donated $237,000 to the Libs on October 20, right before his wife got the 50,000 votes necessary to maintain the party's ballot status. Despite all of Harding's public denunciations of him for supposedly abandoning Betsy's campaign, Wilbur became the party's biggest donor.

Marjory Tolub, the nurse whose husband, Walter, is the judge on a pending lawsuit filed by Wilbur Ross's first wife, gave $1500 to the Libs on November 19. She's been a donor to the party since Harding put Walter Tolub on the bench in 1989, and even her husband's handling of a case involving Harding's most generous benefactor hasn't prompted a recusal. Judge Tolub is up for reelection next year, and needs Harding's support.

Research: Will Johnson, David Kihara, David Shaftel, and Nicole White

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