Millennial Matchup

Zany and Historical Factors That Will Make Rudy or Hill a Winner 

The millennium showdown between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani will be decided by a galaxy of factors neither completely controls. Giuliani will spend millions convincing suburban and upstate centrists that his grim "competence" is better for New York than her oozing "collegiality." She will spend more millions trying to pivot the race around her issue advantage on health care and education. But factors from the Golan Heights to the Kensico reservoir, from who sits in Saint Patrick's Cathedral to who marches on Saint Patty's Day, from Bradley to Bush, from a Justice Department slam at the NYPD to a special prosecutor's scorching of Hillary, could shape the contest of the new century. In 2000, Al Sharpton's Albany Hijinks at the Diallo trial may well become Giuliani's upstate fodder. Poughkeepsie-born Rudy Crew's 60-second commercial on the mayor's inability to work with others could strike a statewide resonant chord. Robert Kennedy Jr.'s crusade to save the watershed from Giuliani-backed developers might deliver a Westchester, if not Hudson Valley, margin to Hometown Hillary. A Joe Hynes or federal grand jury report on the fatal Williamsburg building collapse could underscore the 'One City/Two Standards' favoritism of Rudy's City Hall.

Decisive action by the new Democratic majority in the Nassau County legislature in crunching the Republican budget deficit could keep Hillary close in GOP country, just as the embarrassment of the mob-tied conviction of the party's Suffolk leader could help there. The first-year honeymoon of a Republican county executive in Erie—where Chuck Schumer won by 30,000 in 1998—could put a swing upstate region solidly in the Giuliani column. A Clinton- brokered cut in the high commercial airfares everywhere upstate could be a boost to her and to moribund economies like Onondaga County's, where Syracuse's mayor loves Rudy and even losing Al D'Amato got a 16,000-vote win in 1998.

If Hillary gets real and is welcomed in Westchester malls and supermarkets on shopping sprees with mom, if Chelsea transfers to Columbia or better yet upstate Colgate, if Donna gushes over her husband on the campaign trail like she did in 1993, if Barak marches in the Israeli Day Parade at Hillary's side, if Rudy's Yankees blow the pennant and the Bronx, if Dave Garth is physically well enough and Rudy accepts the "candidate-protection-program" discipline that made him mayor—any of these events could move points in a tight race.

illustration: Dale Stephanos

Would Bill Bradley run as a Knickerbocker favorite son if he were the Democratic presidential nominee and win here by a million or more votes, bringing Hillary in with him? Would running with Bradley allow even Hillary to dodge Clinton fatigue?

What impact would it have on the senate race if either presidential ticket included a Catholic for vice president in a state whose electorate is more than 50 percent Catholic? How about Mario Cuomo?

Will the new archbishop do what John J. O'Connor did to Geraldine Ferraro in his first few months in 1984—denounce the Catholic candidate on abortion, pointing out, in Giuliani's case, that he may be the only major Catholic Republican in America who supports "partial-birth" abortion?

Will the Right to Life Party join the Conservative Party backing a candidate who will make "partial-birth" abortion a central issue in the campaign, drawing more than a quarter of a million votes? Will the new archbishop grant a public audience to that candidate? Will George Pataki and Al D'Amato quietly help Conservative leader Mike Long, who will soon be the subject of Giuliani seduction?

Can Son of Ken Starr, new special prosecutor Robert Ray, the Brooklyn boy hired by Rudy in 1988 in his first prosecutorial job, indict Hillary in midyear or issue a report making a credible case against her?

Will Hillary's kiss matter anywhere but Boro Park if a peace accord with Syria is signed?

Will Gerry Adams tour with Hillary, reminding the Irish that no president has done more to bring peace to Ireland than Bill Clinton, and no prosecutor did more to entomb Joe Doherty than Rudy Giuliani?

Can Rudy shut the Staten Island landfill ahead of schedule and in time to get the largest margin in history out of his favorite county?

Can the Clinton administration impose import controls to help Kodak—the kingpin employer in Monroe County (Rochester) so damaged by the Japanese? Can it act to revive job-hemorrhaging Lockheed Martin, whose search and navigation equipment plant near Syracuse has been hurt by military cutbacks?

Will an aroused labor, uncompromised by city contract talks in 2000, be a unified force behind Hillary and against the man who called transit workers criminals?

Is the state's biggest ethnic bloc—the 25 percent who are Italian—such a monolith, even after electing a senator and governor, that it will still reflexively vote Rudolfo?

Will it become a kind of collective common wisdom, especially upstate, that Hillary's traveling show is contemptibly arrogant, and will people vote with a show-her-the-door sneer that dismisses all other issues or interests?

Will Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch document the soft-on-bad-cops record of the Giuliani administration and install a federal monitor on the NYPD?

Will white media let Hillary speak to black concerns from brutality to affirmative action without painting it as pandering? Will it treat targeted appeals to blacks the same way it treats appeals, for example, to Jews?

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