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Friday, February 25, 2005

Spitzer the kingmaker

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitze

Spitzer To Back Ferrer For Mayor

by Ben Smith

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is set to put his national reputation to work on the city’s political scene by endorsing Fernando Ferrer for Mayor of New York, aides to both politicians told The Observer.

Mr. Spitzer’s public announcement of his support for Mr. Ferrer is planned for this spring, though no date has been set. But whatever the day, time and place, the Attorney General’s embrace of the former Bronx Borough President will likely be the single most important endorsement of the Mayor’s race and a centerpiece of Mr. Ferrer’s campaign. The move will put one of the most popular Democrats in the nation behind Mr. Ferrer, who already holds a solid lead in early polls over his three rivals for the Democratic nomination.

The Attorney General’s decision is unusual for an official of his stature. While Mr. Ferrer and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller have already begun to announce a steady stream of mini-endorsements from local politicians, neither of New York’s Senators is expected to play favorites in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, and no other national figures have shown any inclination to get involved in the race. Even the Reverend Al Sharpton is standing on the sidelines, at least for the moment. Mr. Spitzer’s status as an icon of reform could prove particularly helpful to Mr. Ferrer, who has long battled the perception that he’s been tarnished by the years spent rising through the ranks of the Bronx Democratic machine.

Though Mr. Spitzer’s open endorsement may come as a surprise, he has long been a quiet supporter of Mr. Ferrer. Mr. Spitzer spoke at two fund-raisers for the Bronx Democrat last year. And last fall, an Observer reporter working on a profile of Mr. Ferrer received a call from Mr. Spitzer’s Columbia County weekend home.

"Freddy has given voice to an important message about the middle class, and what can be done to maintain the middle class," Mr. Spitzer said at the time.

This week Mr. Spitzer, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on his plans for an endorsement.

But aides to Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Ferrer said the endorsement was agreed on before the Democratic National Convention, at a meeting between the Attorney General and the Bronx politician, then the president of a small Manhattan think tank, the Drum Major Institute. And their political relationship goes back well before that. For one thing, they share pollsters and advisors, and Mr. Spitzer’s campaign office rents space in the Broadway office of the Global Strategy Group, where Mr. Ferrer has spent many recent days making fund-raising calls and plotting strategy.

The fact is that he needs a Democratic mayor to smooth the way to challenge Pataki and Ferrer is likely to win big. Giuliani is unlikely to play a serious role in this race because he's so widely hated by so many people. If he were to win, he would be the first hispanic mayor of a city over a million in the US. It would also leave Joe Bruno isolated in Albany. hwe would be the only republican of stature left in the state. Sharpton got Charles Barron out of the race, but with Virginia Fields still in, he has to wait for her campaign to falter before backing Ferrer. The other candidates have no chance, because they don't have a base of voters or name recognition . And the Stadium deal is unpopular with enough people that it hurts Bloombe

posted by Steve @ 3:10:00 AM

3:10:00 AM

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