`Out-of-state candidate'? Depends on the definition

Contributions: Both Hillary and Rudy are taking so much non-New York money that the lines are starting to blur.

May 07, 2000|By Andrea Bernstein

WHO IS the out-of-state candidate in the New York Senate race? The answer seems so obvious that you're probably wondering how such a daft question could even be posed. Candidates aside, though, it should be of interest how much non-New York money is flowing into the campaign.

But to paraphrase the famous spouse of one of the candidates, the answer is: Depends on what your definition of "out of state" is.

Only one candidate was born outside of New York, schooled in New England, and built a career in the South. That candidate, obviously, is Hillary Rodham Clinton. She barely moved to New York in time to vote just once before her own name will appear on the ballot. And, because the issue of her residency prior to deciding to run for federal office is one of the most troubling issues for voters, you can be sure nary a day will pass when Republicans don't try to remind you of this.

Then there's the candidate drawing a greater proportion of financial support from New York natives. And that, according to a recent Albany Times Union analysis, is - Hillary Clinton.

The mayor's press aides quickly volunteered to any reporter who happened to call that the conclusion was deceptive, because the mayor has raised $9.1 million from natives, while Clinton has pulled in just $5.5 million. That's because the mayor has raised much more money than the first lady, period.

Looking at the candidates' donors doesn't tell the whole story. The race already has drawn the attention of issue-advocacy groups, most of them based outside New York, and most on the side of the mayor. These have stated their intention to run, and in some cases have already begun running, so-called "independent expenditure campaigns."

There's the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent tens of thousands of dollars to show that video of Clinton embracing Yasser Arafat's wife after she denounced Israel for gassing Palestinian children. There's Citizens for a Sound Economy, which has vowed to raise at least $1 million for a campaign to oppose Clinton.

Of course, Rudy supporters, or, more accurately, Hillary haters, don't have the corner on the independent expenditure market. The Washington, D.C.-based Sierra Club has just begun running cable ads in New York City, Westchester and Long Island practically accusing Giuliani of opposing a clean water supply for New York City. And the mayor expects more such ads. In fact, he says, the megabucks that will be poured into these campaigns are the reason he needs to raise soft money.

Much of which, of course, will come from out of state.

Andrea Bernstein covers politics for the New York Observer and WNYC-AM and FM.

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