N.Y. Senate race still tight
'Hitler' ad an issue in Kentucky
By Stuart Rothenberg
New York Senate Sen. Al D'Amato is facing the type of candidate he's never faced before: someone just like himself. And that's the main reason why Republicans are now worried about the senator's political future.
Polling generally shows the race between Republican D'Amato and Democratic challenger Charles Schumer neck and neck. One media poll had the senator over 50 percent and with a considerable lead, but other surveys show the two candidates each drawing between 44 percent and 46 percent of the vote.
The Republican has maintained a fund-raising advantage of a few million dollars, but both candidates have spent lavishly and have been able to get their messages out.
Schumer, who has emphasized his record on crime and support for the death penalty to neutralize expected GOP charges that he is too far to the left, has hammered D'Amato's record on the environment, abortion, guns, women's issues and Social Security, always painting the Republican as too conservative. D'Amato, who began his re-election effort by moving to the ideological middle, has portrayed the Democratic congressman as a high tax, big spending liberal.
Schumer's advantage in the race is that he is as tenacious and aggressive as D'Amato. Unlike then-New York State attorney general Bob Abrams, whom D'Amato beat in 1992, or political unknown Mark Green, whom the senator defeated in 1986, Schumer is a tough, well-funded opponent who can take advantage of D'Amato's weaknesses.
The Republican senator, however, has sought to take advantage of Schumer's Brooklyn political base, hoping that the Democrat won't sell in the suburbs or, particularly, upstate. And D'Amato has been hammering Schumer's attendance record. One recent D'Amato TV spot includes a breast-cancer survivor crediting the senator for getting "another $100 million for breast cancer research," adding that Schumer "missed that vote."
President Bill Clinton recently went to New York City for a Schumer fund-raiser, and both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Al Gore are helping in fund-raising. On the GOP side, Gov. George Pataki (R), a D'Amato ally, apparently is doing what he can to help the senator's re-election effort.
D'Amato recently got a good break when a judge ruled that a referendum about the future of Yankee stadium could not appear on the November ballot. Local political observers thought that the referendum would boost turnout in the Bronx, bringing more Democrats to the polls and helping Schumer.
D'Amato has reached out to constituencies that are normally considered Democratic, and he knows how to run strong campaigns. But Schumer is proving to be a formidable foe. The polls show quite persuasively that the New York Senate contest is a real horse race.
'Hitler' ad an issue in Kentucky
Kentucky Senate The open seat race between Republican Jim Bunning and Democrat Scotty Baesler has turned into a bare-knuckled battle focusing on Social Security, taxes, education and the two campaigns' tactics.
Polling suggests that Bunning and Baesler are in a tight fight, though Republican insiders appear to be more upbeat and optimistic than their Democratic counterparts.
The hottest topic of the Senate race has been a Bunning ad that used footage of Baesler at a Kentucky political event. The spot included close-up shots of the Democrat, pounding the lectern and screaming about a number of issues. In the background of the ad was Wagner, the German composer identified with Adolph Hitler.
Baesler's campaign complained bitterly about the ad, arguing that the camera shots and music were intended to make him look like Hitler. The Louisville Courier-Journal, the largest newspaper in the state, editorialized about the ad, strongly criticizing the Bunning campaign. But the Republican's campaign decided against pulling the ad or altering it in any way, fearing that that would be seen as an admission of guilt and prolong the issue.
Baesler, who voted against the Republican impeachment vote, hopes to rally Democrats to his campaign, while Bunning continues to hope that his conservative views and attacks on Baesler will attract conservative Democrats to his campaign.
Baesler started this race with a slight edge, but heavy GOP spending and advertising has changed that. Democrats hope that Bunning has made a mistake with his controversial TV ad, and that he will make more. As Election Day nears, it seems clear that this race will go down to the wire, though with insiders betting that Bunning has a slight edge.
Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Clinton to watch Glenn blastoff
Military officers risk discipline if they criticize Clinton
Podesta named White House Chief of Staff
Georgia legislator, son of civil rights leader, indicted
Jones asks to have case against Clinton reinstated
Ken Starr's wife speaks out
Survey finds American optimism high
McCurry: Clinton 'stupid' in personal life
Big bucks may decide close Washington Senate race
New financial fuel in California Senate race
An old-time showdown in North Carolina's Senate race
Georgia race for lieutenant governor takes nasty turn
Wrestler barges into Minnesota governor race