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New York's myriad of small parties could determine Senate race

Frank Buckley/CNN

December 8, 1999
Web posted at: 5:49 p.m. EST (2249 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) - New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is a Republican. First lady Hillary Clinton is a Democrat. But if the Senate race in New York shapes up to be Clinton versus Giuliani, it will not be a simple matchup of the two traditional parties.

Hundreds of thousands of New York voters prefer to vote as members of other parties. For example, if one were to take a glance at one of last year's ballots, it would be easy to see why third-party voting patterns in the Empire State are difficult to discern.

In New York, some third parties tend to run their own candidates, while other parties endorse the Democrat or Republican who runs on that party's line.

"We have many parties (in New York)," proclaimed pollster Mickey Blum. "Here, it is much more complicated than in most states, where it is simply a Republican-Democratic campaign."

Here's an example: Giuliani, the Republican, received the Liberal Party endorsement as a mayoral candidate. But, if he receives the Liberal Party endorsement in his run for the United States Senate, the Conservative Party will not endorse him.

On the other side of the coin, if Giuliani seeks the endorsement of the Conservative Party, he risks alienating moderates, women, and some suburban voters, all of whom could be key in the race.

But the Conservative Party has been important to the goals of New York Republicans. Since 1974, no Republican has won a statewide election without the endorsement of the Conservative Party.

"I think the Conservative party ... can provide the margin of victory for any candidate that seeks our endorsement," says Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.

"We also are capable of running and winning with our own candidate," Long adds. "We did that with Jim Buckley, and it can be done again."

Long was referring to the New York Senate election of 1970, when his party ran its own U.S. Senate candidate, James Buckley, beating both the Republican, Charles Goodell, and Democrat Dick Ottinger.

Ottinger is still upset about the Liberal Party in that race, who endorsed the Republican.

"They do play a factor in close elections," Ottinger said. "There are a certain number of people that just vote on that line who don't like to be identified with the Republicans or Democrats."

In 2000, the question in New York will be: Will such voters still vote for a Republican or a Democrat?


Debate notebook: On television, a spectacle -- but in Phoenix, a quiet night (12-7-99)

Gore, Mrs. Clinton look for votes in New York (12-7-99)

McCain decries influence of politics in military (12-7-99)

Reform Party votes to move national convention to Minnesota (12-7-99)



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Wednesday, December 8, 1999

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