||One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.|
Millionaires Battle In California Governor's Primary
Democrats will hold N.Y.C.'s 9th congressional district
By Stuart Rothenberg
The California governor's race, which already looked like an expensive battle after businessman Al Checchi entered the Democratic primary, got a lot more expensive after Cong. Jane Harman announced she'd give up her House seat and join Checchi and Lt. Gov. Gray Davis in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Checchi has already spent $18 million of his own money on the race, much of it on TV advertising, and the owner of Northwest Airlines has gone from a political unknown to a political powerhouse in just a few months. He could spend $30 million in the primary. Checchi, who is emphasizing that he isn't a politician and that he wants to make major changes in the state's policies, preaches fiscal responsibility but is generally liberal on lifestyle issues.
Unlike Davis, who is a well-known political figure in the state but has no personal wealth, Harman also has deep pockets. She is the only woman in the race, and although she is generally regarded as a moderate, she could well draw support from all elements of the party. After airing TV spots introducing herself statewide, her poll numbers immediately jumped up.
A mid-March Field poll showed Harman, Checchi and Davis all within a half dozen points, but with Davis, who is expected to draw support from party regulars and liberals, running behind his wealthier opponents. With Davis's war chest likely limited to $5 million, the lieutenant governor could easily be overwhelmed on TV by Checchi and Harman, and most insiders believe that one of the two millionaires will win the nomination and the right to face Republican Dan Lungren, the state attorney general.
An open race -- among Democrats
New York 9 Charles Schumer's decision to run for the Senate has created an open seat that has four major Democrats headed for a Sept. 15 primary. Given the district's Democratic bent, the winner of the primary will be the next member of Congress from the district. The district includes part of Brooklyn and part of Queens.
The four main candidates in the race currently are New York City Councilman Noach Dear, state Assemblyman Dan Feldman, state Assemblywoman Melinda Katz, and New York City Councilman Anthony Weiner. (The filing deadline is July 16, and it's possible that not all four of the hopefuls will remain in the contest.)
While the four Democrats are Jewish (like Schumer), there are some clear
differences that separate them, both strategically and politically.
Katz, who like Weiner is in her early 30s, is from Queens, while the three men are from Brooklyn. Dear, who like Feldman is in his mid-to-late 40s, is generally regarded as the most conservative candidate in the race. And while Katz and Weiner supported 1997 Democratic mayoral nominee Ruth Messinger, Feldman neither endorsed Messinger nor her GOP opponent, incumbent mayor Rudy Giuliani. Dear, on the other hand, endorsed Giuliani.
As city councilmen, Dear and Weiner receive considerably more local media coverage than do the state legislators. Weiner represents more of the 9th C.D. than do the other three, while Dear represents the fewest number of voters in the congressional district.
Dear, the only orthodox Jew in the race, is expected to easily outspend his opponents. He is expected to show in excess of $900,000 raised as of the end of March. But critics argue that his views (he's generally more conservative on lifestyle issues and favors school vouchers) limit his support in the district to the orthodox Jewish community and some conservative Catholics.
Observers are split on exactly which candidates have the best chance for the nomination. Some emphasize Dear's money, while others note Weiner's closeness to Schumer and his tenaciousness as a campaigner. Still others cite Katz's gender and support from the Queens Democratic organization. Finally, others note Feldman's support from the Brooklyn organization.
The conflicting opinions suggest this race is still very much up in the air.
Both money and organization will play key roles.