Advantage: Hevesi

City Comptroller Scores Big in Primary Races as Ferrer and Green Stumble

Even Sharpton, who was assailed by Hevesi in the 1997 race and is determined to defeat him in 2001, concedes that Hevesi made gains in black Brooklyn. Sharpton says this core of black officials "is going to deliver something" for the comptroller, adding that all Hevesi "wants is a piece" of the black vote, since his main support is among white moderate Democrats.

Owens insists that he "has no mayoral candidate" and that he made no pledge to back Hevesi when Hevesi endorsed him late in his campaign against Councilwoman Clarke. But he says Hevesi was "immensely helpful," and recounts with bitterness the demise of his longstanding relationship with Green, who he says is "too immature to be mayor." Owens ticks off the times he endorsed Green—going back to his run for U.S. Senate in the '80s—and says their relationship fell apart when he switched from Green to Schumer in the 1998 Senate race.

Owens endorsed Green before Schumer entered the race, and when his Brooklyn congressional colleague decided to seek the seat, he met with Green for three hours one Saturday at Green's home. Owens concluded that Green "had no game plan" to beat Schumer and was staying in the race "as a spoiler," angered by Schumer's late decision to run. He wrote Green a four-page letter saying he planned to endorse Schumer and waited three weeks to do it, never hearing back from Green. He instead urged Green to run for mayor and promised his support. "Mark hasn't spoken to me since," says Owens. Green declined to comment on what he called Owens's "selective version" of events.

Green's decision to back Clarke, who lost by 3383 votes, was, he insists, based on "balancing her and Major's records," not the 1998 switch. He refuses to discuss any conversations he had with Clarke about her endorsement in 2001, when she reportedly plans to run her daughter Yvette Clarke for the council position she must vacate. But Clarke's daughter is on a leave of absence from a job with the Ferrer-controlled Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, where Derrick Broomes, a close Clarke ally, is the chief financial officer. Clarke backed Ferrer's short-lived mayoral campaign in 1997 and Ferrer endorsed her in the race against Owens. Stanley Schlein, the counsel to the Bronx Democratic organization, represented Clarke in her recent legal skirmishes with Owens.

Aligning himself with Clarke next year may also prove to be politically embarrassing for reformer Green since Clarke has already refused to repay a cent of the largest fine ever leveled against a councilmember by the city's Campaign Finance Board. She owes the CFB $48,066 for wildly exceeding the expenditure cap in 1997, even drawing down $9877 more than she was entitled to in public funding. She also just ran her congressional campaign in similar gross violation of federal law, declining to disclose all but $1000 of the $120,000 she raised between April and June 30, and then not filing at all after that. Green will only say that he is "concerned" about Clarke's campaign-finance breaches.

Beyond these big-picture races, Green may have helped himself in Queens, where he backed Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, who won decisively against Patrick O'Malley, a challenger openly backed by Giuliani and Ed Koch, as well as aided covertly by Democratic county leader Tom Manton. Hevesi and Vallone stayed neutral in the race, afraid to alienate Manton, whose support both seek in their home county. Ferrer also endorsed Nolan, who backed Green in the 1998 Senate race. Hevesi's neutrality could not have pleased Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and other Hevesi allies from his 22 years in Albany. Green also demonstrated his political clout in Manhattan, where a candidate he backed for the civil court won handily against one championed by Hevesi.

The only local race other than Engel's that Vallone got vigorously involved in was in the Astoria assembly district that is the centerpiece of his own councilmanic district. Vallone's candidate, Michael Gianaris, won by over 600 votes over another Greek candidate, Kimon Thermos, who was backed by Green and Ferrer. Hevesi was neutral. Vallone was annoyed by Ferrer's and Green's intrusion on his turf, claiming that neither had "ever stepped foot" into his district before, even though Thermos ran in previous elections.

In addition to his Bronx fiascos, Ferrer also backed East Harlem assemblyman Nelson Denis, who lost to Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

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