The Early Line

The Guys Who Want Rudy Giuliani’s Job

Weaknesses: launched exploratory committee more than a year ago and wound up spending more than he raised; without active Giuliani assistance can't finance a campaign; will be 72 years old next year; insiders don't take him seriously anymore; his Rudy-inspired change of registration to Republican hurt him in his old base.

Asked by the Voice to rate Giuliani's mayoralty on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 the highest score, Green gave Rudy's first term a 6 and his second a 2, while Ferrer scored it a collective 6, Albanese a 5, and Badillo an 8. Hevesi, Vallone, and Bratton declined to rate it, while Bloomberg wouldn't answer any questions.

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.

Research assistance: Kim Brown, Lina Katz, Matt Leising

Races That Matter
Three Contests That Could Impact the Mayoral Sweepstakes

At least three races this summer could have a major impact on the 2001 mayoral sweepstakes: Congressman Joe Crowley's reelection campaign in Queens, Eliot Engel's in the Bronx, and Guy Velella's state senate run, also in the Bronx.

When City Council member Walter McCaffrey suddenly pulled out of the congressional race against Crowley last Friday, it was a potential boon to Council Speaker Peter Vallone and blow to Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Queens Democratic boss Tom Manton is backing Crowley and was engaged in an all-out war against McCaffrey, who has long been closely identified with Vallone. The bitter battle had helped seal an alliance between Manton and Hevesi, especially after Hevesi media adviser Hank Morris took over the Crowley campaign a few weeks ago.

By helping to convince McCaffrey to drop out after NY 1's Dave Lewis exposed apparent improper campaign expenditures by McCaffrey, Vallone may have won Manton's temporary favor, diminishing the likelihood of a Hevesi mayoral endorsement. Manton may still wind up steering the Queens Democratic organization behind Hevesi, especially if Vallone droops in the polls. But for now at least, Vallone has neutralized Hevesi's advantage with party leaders in hopes of keeping the party machinery out of the 2001 race.

Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez's highly unusual endorsement of a challenger—black state senator Larry Seabrook—against incumbent congressman Engel is a bold attempt to build a black/Latino alliance for Ferrer's 2001 campaign. The assumption is that with two or three Jewish candidates in the mayoral race, Ferrer is unlikely to get many Jewish votes; but with no black candidate, he may be able to attract support from the largest single voting bloc in a Democratic primary.

Reverend Al Sharpton, who has publicly indicated he is almost certainly not running in 2001, is poised to back Ferrer, especially if Ramirez can elect Seabrook. "I had several meetings with Ramirez and Ferrer," Sharpton told the Voice, adding that he also "helped set up" Seabrook's meetings with Ramirez and that he was pleased with the result. Sharpton sees the Seabrook/Ramirez alliance as the first step in "healing the rift" between black and Latino leadership, saying it could lead to a powerful coalition and "be pivotal to kicking off a movement around Freddy."

When the Ramirez endorsement prompted protest from Jewish leaders, Ferrer began studiously claiming his own neutrality, telling the Voice that he told Ramirez he thought the party boss should "stay out of it" and insisting that Ramirez "makes his own decisions." Sharpton, on the other hand, says that "in our conversations, Freddy did not lead me to believe that he was opposed to an endorsement." Ramirez at first refused to reveal what Ferrer's position was in their private conversations, but told of Ferrer's claim, he said: "If he said it, it's true." Ramirez later added: "It happens to be true."

Hevesi's consultant Morris called Ramirez and Ferrer "political partners" and said that "everything that is being done" in the Engel race is "being done to enhance the borough president's chances of being elected mayor." Hevesi is backing Engel, while Green and Vallone are sitting the race out. Ramirez insists that he dumped Engel at the behest of white and minority leaders within the congressional district and that "it remains to be seen if it will hurt Freddy more than help him."

Morris's comment also referred to Ramirez's opposition to another Jewish candidate, Lorraine Koppell, the wife of former Attorney General Oliver Koppell, who is running for Velella's senate seat, backed by Democratic senate minority leader Marty Connor. Ramirez encouraged a two-time loser in prior races against Velella, Mike Benedetto, to challenge Koppell in a primary. Before Koppell decided to run, Ramirez persuaded another formidable challenger, John Calvelli, to pull out of the race in what was widely seen as a favor to Velella, who has close ties to Ramirez and is the GOP leader in the Bronx.

All the intrigue around these races is an embarrassment to Ferrer, though a Seabrook win might make it worth the angst next year. —W.B.

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