Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay says he has the votes to oust followers of Lenora Fulani from the state party's executive committee at a state committee meeting on September 18. If he's right, expect Eliot Spitzer and Hillary Clinton to heave big sighs of relief.
Both Democrats would desperately like to have the political insurance policy of having their names listed on the party's ballot line in next year's elections, but both have said they would shun the line if Fulani, whose past anti-Semitic statements have made her politically toxic, was in charge.
The key to freeing up the party from the grasp of those Fulani calls her "advisers" lies with MacKay, a freewheeling independent from Suffolk County who previously aligned himself with Fulani's crew. With a ponytail and an earring, MacKay has been described by Newsday as looking more like a rock band roadie than a political-party leader. But he has worked closely for years with one of Fulani's key strategists, Cathy Stewart, the chairwoman of the city's party.
MacKay said that he was "revolted" by Fulani's refusal on NY1 last spring to renounce her earlier comments about Jews and Israel and that he has been biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to boot her altogether. He declined to detail his discussions with other candidates, saying only that "it is clear to me that Clinton and Spitzer want nothing to do with Fulani."
Spitzer's gubernatorial campaign manager, Ryan Toohey, hinted last June that the attorney general was meeting with other Independence Party officials and had become convinced that Fulani didn't have firm control of the party's apparatus. "Eliot has enjoyed the offbeat nature of some of the characters in the party, and the issues they are concerned with," said Toohey.