Jews across the state have a higher opinion of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani than other groups, but most would choose First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton if the two squared off in a Senate race, according to a recent poll.
The survey of 513 New York State voters conducted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie found that 63 percent of Jews would choose the Democrat Clinton, while only 36 percent would support the Republican Giuliani. The mayor took more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote against Jewish Democrat Ruth Messinger in winning re-election in 1997.
But the poll also found that 63 percent of Jews had a "favorable" opinion of the mayor, to 31 percent "unfavorable." The favorable mark among Jews is higher than from whites (59 percent) and Catholics (58 percent). Giuliani’s lowest favorable rating, 22 percent, came from blacks, 73 percent of whom had an unfavorable opinion.
"Giuliani is still very popular among Jewish voters," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist poll. "But in a matchup against Hillary Clinton, Jews move decisively in her direction."
Seventy-three percent of Jews polled had a favorable opinion of the first lady; to 25 percent unfavorable.
The only other candidate included in the Senate poll was former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, whose Jewish approval rating appears to be at an all-time low. Only 16 percent of Jews surveyed had a favorable opinion of the Republican who in November was defeated in his bid for a fourth term by Democrat Charles Schumer, while 81 percent had unfavorable opinions. Were D’Amato and Clinton to face off in a Senate race, 72 percent of Jews would support Clinton, and 22 percent D’Amato, who won about 23 percent of the Jewish vote last year, said the poll.
Clinton would easily defeat either Giuliani or DíAmato, the survey also suggested.
Giuliani dismissed the pollís findings as premature, since neither he nor Clinton has formally entered the race to succeed Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But he speculated that the first lady’s popularity stemmed from the impeachment trial of her husband. "People empathize and sympathize with her," he said at a press conference.
The poll’s findings, however, may be moot, and not only because Clinton is seen as highly unlikely to run. Giuliani aides last week were fueling speculation that the mayor might decide to run for governor in 2002. Sources say Giuliani has postponed the announcement of his Senate bid while contemplating a run against Gov. George Pataki, with whom he is feuding. Pataki recently announced a state investigation of the city Board of Education and School Construction Authority, enraging the mayor.
While wresting the Republican nomination from the governor would be virtually impossible, insiders speculate that a Giuliani run as candidate on the Liberal and/or Independence line could harm Pataki’s chances for a third term, if he sought one.
But all signs point to a federal campaign for Giuliani. His national political action committee, Solutions America, will hold its first Manhattan fund-raiser Sunday, at which he hopes to take in $75,000.
The field of candidates seeking the vacant City Council seat of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn-Queens) has been reduced from seven to three.
The candidates (all Jewish) needed 1,474 signatures to be placed on the ballot, and the city’s Board of Elections ruled Tuesday that thousands of signatures collected by the four candidates were invalid. Irma Kramer, who challenged the other candidates’ petitions, is now the only Orthodox candidate, and the only woman, on the ballot.
Kramer now faces Alan Sclar and Michael Nelson in the Feb. 16 nonpartisan special election, both non-Orthodox candidates whose petitions she did not challenge.
The ousted candidates vowed to fight their removal from the ballot in state court and, if necessary, federal court. "People should have the right to choose between all the candidates," said Gerald Dunbar, an attorney for Midwood businessman Joseph Dweck. The district includes Midwood and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.
Dunbar will seek to void Kramerís challenge because it was issued on Sunday, in violation of state law, he said.
None of the candidates challenged the petitions of Kramer, who submitted more than 5,000 signatures. "There were too many to check," said Dunbar.
A spokesman for Gov. George Pataki insists there was no agreement to mandate curricula on the Holocaust and other historical tragedies in the December charter school bill.
"We have no recollection of an agreement," said Michael McKeon of the governor’s press office.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had claimed such an agreement was negotiated into the bill, but did not appear in the version signed by the governor.
"There is no question that every student can learn serious and important lessons about the Holocaust," said McKeon, "but we want to make sure these schools have the maximum flexibility possible."
Silver’s spokeswoman, Pat Lynch, did not return several calls.
Rep. Mike Forbes (R-L.I.) declared that he will boycott the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington Thursday because of the scheduled participation of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. "No amount of political whitewash can cleanse the blood of innocent Americans and Israelis from Arafat’s hands," said the Suffolk congressman in a statement. "His presence … will allow Arafat to exploit this spiritual, non-partisan event for his own political profit."
Citing a pending lawsuit by families of Holocaust victims against Deutsche Bank, Councilman Noach Dear (D-Brooklyn) has called on the state Banking Committee to reject the takeover of Bankers Trust by the institution, Germany’s largest bank.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) has co-sponsored legislation to ensure that settlements paid to Holocaust survivors and their heirs be exempt from federal taxes. "The United States government should not prosper from the pain and suffering of the Holocaust," said Nadler in a statement.