Councilwoman Asks Clinton to Quit Senate Race

November 22, 1999

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City councilwoman representing Manhattan's liberal Upper Wide Side on Sunday called on first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton not to run for the U.S. Senate representing New York.

Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge said that Clinton's exploration of a Senate run was fraught with miscalculations, and that she should step aside and let a stronger candidate face presumptive Republican nominee, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"She's not from the state, and she doesn't have this instinctive feeling for New Yorkers," Eldridge, who represents one of the city's most progressive neighborhoods, told WCBS radio.

Eldridge became one of the first elected Democrats to call on Clinton, who has formed an exploratory committee but has not yet made a formal declaration, to withdraw from the Senate race. Democratic state Assemblyman Dov Hikind also expressed reservations about her prospective candidacy.

A new Zogby/New York Post poll said on Sunday that a majority of New Yorkers do not want the first lady to even run for the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Fifty-three percent of 908 state residents polled on Thursday and Friday said Clinton should not run for the Senate from New York, while 45 percent said she should. The poll had a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

Eldridge, who said Clinton also faced the difficult task of balancing her duties as first lady with a grueling Senate campaign, said there were several stronger candidates for the Democrats, including state Comptroller Carl McCall, the state's highest black elected official.

Other prominent Democrats weighing in on the Clinton candidacy in recent days included black activist Rev. Al Sharpton, who said this weekend that if Clinton does not declare by January he would likely announce his candidacy.

But Sen. Charles Schumer, for whom Mrs. Clinton campaigned during his Senate race last year against incumbent Republican Alfonse D'Amato, said the first lady should be given time.

"You have to give your candidate a little slack," he said on Sunday morning news shows. "There's going to be a time when the mayor is down, and there is going to be a time when (Clinton is) down."