By Ken Rudin
Question: With all the hoopla surrounding next year's New York Senate race, it seems its effect on the House has been overlooked. If either of GOP Reps. Rick Lazio or Peter King decides to leave the House for a run at the Senate, wouldn't their open seats be at least competitive or maybe even lean Democratic? With only a six-seat margin, shouldn't the GOP be begging these congressmen to stay put? Evan Zachary, Jackson, Tenn.
Answer: Your question came before Gov. George Pataki (R), who was thought to be pulling the strings behind the effort of Long Island Rep. Lazio, suddenly endorsed Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the Republicans' strongest candidate. Pataki's move prompted Lazio, who always said he wouldn't run if the governor told him not to, to put his bid on hold, pending a Giuliani entry into the race. But your question is a very important one, since the GOP holds only the most precarious margin in the House.
But for all the pressure on Pataki to get Lazio out of the Senate race, the same kind of pressure wasn't put on Lazio to stay in the House, and that was surprising. House Democrats, led by Richard Gephardt, have worked diligently and often successfully to keep incumbents in leadership positions or marginal districts from leaving to seek higher office. Reps. Peter Deutsch (Fla.), Bill Luther (Minn.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Frank Pallone (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Ted Strickland (Ohio), Patrick Kennedy (R.I.), Jim McDermott (Wash.) and Adam Smith (Wash.), among others, all had Senate aspirations but all decided to stay in the House, partly because Gephardt personally intervened. Republicans have not been as fortunate. At least six GOP incumbents are sticking with their term-limits pledge and will retire, and three others are running for higher office. A good number of these seats could fall to the Dems. No House GOP official was willing or able to convince these Republicans to stay. New York’s Peter King is still mulling a Senate bid, though he likely won't do it. But had he and/or Lazio vacated their seats, Democrats would have had a shot at them as well.
Question: What do you think the likelihood is of New York’s Conservative Party and the Right to Life Party endorsing Giuliani? Stephen Schatz, Queens, N.Y.
Answer: Not sure and none certainly none as far as the Right to Life Party goes; Giuliani supports abortion rights. While several of New York's minor parties have historically chosen expediency over principle, the RTL Party would not be expected to sell out quite so brazenly. As for the Conservatives, word is that party chairman Michael Long is willing to meet with Giuliani for a possible endorsement. State Republicans from the party chairman on down are lobbying Long to give the mayor the nod. But Long clearly was leaning toward Rick Lazio. And he is hardly a fan of Giuliani, who almost assuredly will receive the endorsement of the state's Liberal Party.
Question: Why aren't we hearing more outrage by feminists about Hillary Clinton's behavior in accepting her husband's infidelity and outright emotional abuse? She continually expounds her feminist ideals both here and abroad and yet her behavior flies in the face of these beliefs. Elaine Barzen, Las Vegas, Nev.
Answer: There is no accounting for why some betrayed spouses stay and others leave. Apparently the first lady decided a long ago that her marriage was worth salvaging. Some say it was a political calculation, a pact with the devil; others say that despite it all, she truly loves her husband. Far be it for me to venture a guess as to why she stays or to measure how much emotional abuse she has taken. Not surprisingly, some of the reaction among feminists has fallen among predictably partisan lines: Republican feminists express outrage, Democratic feminists point to the President's pro-women's issues administration.
Hillary Clinton has won the admiration of many feminists not because of how she deals with her husband's behavior but because of the causes she believes in and fights for. It is disappointing that after years of blaming the "vast right-wing conspiracy" for rumors about Mr. Bill's womanizing and not hesitating to call the other women liars, Hillary Clinton has almost casually acknowledged (in Talk magazine) his years of straying. But I'm not going to judge anyone who works to keep his or her marriage together, or question whether one who does so can be called a "feminist."
Question: It seems everybody glosses over the unique circumstances in which carpetbaggers win in N.Y. In his successful run for the Senate in 1964, Robert Kennedy ran 300,000-plus votes behind Lyndon Johnson. Doug Landau, Pocatello, Idaho
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© Copyright 1999 Ken Rudin