The Early Line

The Guys Who Want Rudy Giuliani’s Job

Weaknesses: ongoing Ramirez alliance with black congressional candidate Larry Seabrook against incumbent Eliot Engel has alarmed Jewish leadership in the Bronx and elsewhere; sudden pullout in 1997 race feeds doubts about character; has never won a seriously contested election; limited by a low profile outside the Bronx; frequently exhibits a hard-edged personality that's the antidote to city's healing mood; creature of Bronx machine who's still tied to dreck like GOP boss Guy Velella; gets Sharpton baggage as well as his blessing; black elected leadership outside the Bronx is still unlikely to go with him; installed Ramirez as county leader in 1994 when he could have shared power at the top with blacks; also might become the target of contribution stories.

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone

Not since 1977 have we seen such a closely competitive collision of vaguely familiar public figures, each eager to turn razor-thin differences on issues into ranting rationales for election.
illustration by Carly Castillon
Not since 1977 have we seen such a closely competitive collision of vaguely familiar public figures, each eager to turn razor-thin differences on issues into ranting rationales for election.

Strengths: tied with Ferrer in Quinnipiac; got 1.4 million city votes in gubernatorial race against Pataki in 1998; his 14-year track record as council leader and 25 years experience on council add up to unparalleled municipal experience; lays claim to white Catholic base; has network of City Council-tied clubs across the city; projects mediating and moderate image with high recognition; distinguished himself in Brooklyn Museum and Yankee Stadium conflicts with Giuliani; likely to get major union support from corrections to fire to DC 37; has strong Queens organization and grassroots backing; allied with comptroller candidate Herb Berman's Brooklyn base; can compete with Hevesi for Daily News and Post endorsements; could be seen as calming force if contest turns ugly and divisive.

Weaknesses: at 65 years of age, embodies old-fashioned politics, especially when paired with sidekick Berman; term limits undercut effectiveness of his Council-based network; appears too close to Giuliani most of the time; splits Queens home base with Hevesi; loses part of white Catholic base to maverick Sal Albanese; key staff replaced by advisers who have muted his 1998 boldness; has no key consultant yet; too tied to Real Estate Board and array of special interests/lobbyists; has bland, legislative personality.

Former City Council member Sal Albanese

Strengths: got nearly 100,000 votes (or 22 percent) in 1997 primary yet not included in Quinnipiac; has already raised enough matchable money ($183,000) to potentially reach public-funding threshold of $250,000 for matching funds even before election year starts; his small-contribution campaign may draw highest percentage match and position him to go on TV far earlier than during his late surge in 1997; ran well in white Catholic districts in 1997; has strong union identification; only immigrant candidate in a city that's 40 percent immigrant; known for uncompromising integrity and independence; respected by many police organizations; will position himself to the left of the field on economic issues.

Weaknesses: will have been out of office for four years by primary day; Vallone is a threat to him in white Catholic base; has no elected official or large union support; at best will raise at least $3 million less than the $5.2 million spending cap; the media will not take him seriously; his 1997 vote was an anti-Sharpton/ anti-Messinger protest; almost everyone who loves him wishes he were running for an office he could actually win.

Ex-police commissioner Bill Bratton

Strengths: widely regarded as top commissioner in city history; offers the best of Giuliani with unquestionable anti-Giuliani credentials; doesn't appear in Quinnipiac but is said to poll well in private surveys; has direct link to Pataki through lawyer Ed Hayes and may decide to change registration from independent and run as Republican; his management skills may be seen as transcending police innovations; would attract Catholic votes in Republican primary or general election; could be seen as centrist alternative if pitted against Green or Ferrer in particular.

Weaknesses: weak black recruitment record at NYPD; ego may outweigh judgment; going from Dem to independent to GOP tracks Giuliani opportunism; accent makes him sound like he should be someone else's mayor; hasn't demonstrated same prowess in business career since leaving government; has no electoral or fundraising experience and would possibly face giant money gap, ditto for grassroots field support.

Media czar Michael Bloomberg

Strengths: a registered Democrat; could be the only candidate to run outside the city campaign-finance system; sees himself duplicating Jon Corzine's New Jersey race and potentially spending $10 million to $20 million of his own money overloading the airwaves; projects can-do, businesslike image that will appeal to middle-class, particularly Jewish, voters; considering a Dem run but more likely to seek Republican line; just threw big party at Republican convention and promises to do the same at Democratic convention; big giver with many political friends; has ties to Pataki that could deliver GOP line even if he remains a Democrat.

Weaknesses: only rationale for this highly uncertain candidacy is money; New York City is not New Jersey; two other well-known Jewish candidates will consume most of that vote in the primary and if one of them wins it will take the Jewish vote again in November; probably would lose to Bratton in heavily Catholic GOP primary; looks like a Republican too close to Giuliani and Pataki no matter what his buffcard says; will have to buy a field operation; was major donor to Hevesi in 1993 and 1997 and would have to explain opposing him now.

City University chair Herman Badillo

Strengths: extraordinary name-recognition after four decades in city politics; vigorous chair of CUNY board pushing major change; if Giuliani is a plus, he's the beneficiary; brilliant understanding of municipal government born of half a dozen runs for mayor and comptroller; could attract unusually high percentage of Latino votes for a Republican if not running against Ferrer.

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