Ferraro To Enter N.Y. Senate Race Monday
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, Jan. 4) -- Geraldine Ferraro, who made history in 1984 when she became the first woman chosen as a vice presidential nominee by a major political party, will try to make a political comeback in 1998 by running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.
Ferraro, now co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," has scheduled a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday to announce her candidacy, with later stops scheduled in Albany and Buffalo.
She has informed CNN executives that she will be leaving the public affairs program, where she has been a co-host since April 1996.
On Sunday, Ferraro, 62, huddled with advisers at her home in Queens, putting the final touches on her announcement speech.
"We have had a rather long and intensive meeting," she told reporters afterward. "We have made a decision on the Senate race. We will be announcing it tomorrow."
A Democratic source tells CNN that Ferraro's decision will be to seek the Democratic Party's nomination for the Senate seat that Republican D'Amato has held since 1980.
Decision sets up crowded Democratic primary
But before she can get to the formidable D'Amato, Ferraro will first have to deal with a crowded Democratic primary field that includes U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer of Brooklyn and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green.
Polls show Ferraro leads Schumer and Green -- and D'Amato in a general election match-up -- but strategists for her primary opponents insist her early lead stems from her high name recognition.
"Her best day will be tomorrow morning" when she makes her announcement, Schumer adviser Hank Morris said Sunday.
Mondale's call put Ferraro on political stage
In 1984, Ferraro, then a little-known congresswoman from Queens, was catapulted to the national stage when Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale chose her to be his running mate.
Though they were soundly thumped by the Republican ticket of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Ferraro's status as the first woman ever picked for a national ticket gave her political icon status.
In 1992, she also sought the Democratic nomination to oppose D'Amato. But she lost an ugly four-way primary that left the Democratic candidate, then-Attorney General Robert Abrams, considerably weakened. D'Amato squeaked out a narrow victory.
During that campaign, Ferraro was attacked by her opponents over business dealings involving her and her husband, John Zaccaro, including insinuations that he had ties to mobsters. Ferraro denounced the attacks as "garbage."
New York Democratic leaders are clearly hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1992 debacle. On Sunday, state party chairwoman Judith Hope issued a statement emphasizing that "the issue is Al D'Amato." Both Green and Schumer said they will heed that message.
"Why help D'Amato with a suicidal primary where the nomination isn't worth getting?" said Green, who lost to D'Amato in the 1986 general election.
But some observers aren't so sure the primary combatants will necessarily take the high road.
"It'll be a mean primary campaign," said Maurice Carroll, a pollster at Quinnipiac College who covered the 1992 Senate race as a reporter. "I don't buy the theory that somehow or other she was inoculated against this because of last time. We're a short-attention-span society."
Ferraro starts in financial hole
Sources tell CNN that Ferraro has hired Democratic media consultant Robert Shrum to help her campaign and that former Democratic National Committee spokesman David Eichenbaum will serve as her campaign manager.
Ferraro starts out at a financial disadvantage to her competitors. Because of her CNN job, she has not raised any money for the race. D'Amato has raised more than $10 million; Schumer, $8 million; and Green $1.4 million.
Even though her "Crossfire" job kept her from raising money, D'Amato had been demanding that Ferraro be taken off the air, claiming she was getting free national exposure for her expected Senate campaign.
Ferraro responded that the "more he attacks me in public, the more exposure I do indeed get."
CNN Correspondent John King contributed to this report.