Giuliani gaining ground in NY Senate contest

September 13, 1999 - Jerusalem Post

NEW YORK - First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be losing ground to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the race next year for the US Senate, but she retains the Jewish vote, according to a New York Post poll that was published yesterday.

Although neither presumed candidate has been nominated yet, Giuliani had 47.8 percent, against 43.5% for Clinton, according to the poll conducted by John Zogby International. The difference between them was within the margin of error, but the number of those polled was not revealed.

Clinton, who is expected to visit Israel in November, had 55.9% of the Jewish vote and the overwhelming majority of the black vote, according to the Zogby poll. Giuliani scored well with Catholics and most other whites.

The poll results appear to indicate that the race will revolve around ethnic politics, which were exacerbated last week by a conditional clemency deal for 16 jailed Puerto Rican nationalists who were members of a militant group known by its Spanish acronym FALN.

The FALN in the 1970s and 1980s waged a terror campaign for Puerto Rican independence that killed 6 people and wounded dozens of others. The dozen who accepted President Bill Clinton's clemency deal had not been convicted of any violent acts.

As its deadline approached, the first lady opposed the clemency deal, even though the president was widely thought to have offered to help his wife's Senate campaign.

In the end, her opposition infuriated Hispanics, who comprise 6% of the New York voters.

The clemency offer, as well as agitation from a segment of the Jewish community, also injected Jonathan Pollard into the New York race.

Giuliani supports clemency for Pollard, who is in the 13th year of a life sentence in federal prison on charges of spying for Israel. And one of Clinton's primary boosters, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, also reportedly backs clemency for Pollard.

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