Besides the general apathy afflicting this mid-term election, the office-seekers here have been competing with a star turn, putting politics in the deep shade. The city went wild over the World Series and those irrepressible Yankees. At least a million New Yorkers turned out for the welcome-home parade to city hall, and every politican in sight climbed on that bandwagon to bask in reflected glory.
At best, the campaign would hardly stir the pulse. Gov. Hugh Carey, A Democrat running for re-election to a second term, was considered a standard product of Brooklyn politics. He has proved to be considerably more than that, since his strenous efforts has a great deal to do with saving not only the city but the state from bankrupty.
Little realized is the fact that this is a Republican state. Nelson Rockefeller won the governorship four times and only resigned the office when he was named vice president by Gerald Ford. Carey showed what a shrewd politican he is when he invited Rockefeller to come to Albany to dedicate Rockefeller Plaza.
The plaza is the billion-dollar office structure that Rockefeller built when, as he was given to saying, he was suffering from an edifice complex. Responding to Carey's introduction, Rockefeller lavished praise on the Democratic governor, stopping just short of an endorsement. When his wife Happy was asked why he had so many kind things to say about the Democrat, she said simply, "Because he likes him."
Rockefeller had a gracious word for the Republican candidate, Perry B. Duryea, minority leader of the state assembly, calling him an excellent legislator. Their relationship had not been too cordial in the past when, as governor, Rockefeller wrestled with an often-recalcitrant legislature.
In a trend of the times, it is a televised campaign with official headquarters put in second place, since most of the estimated $4 million that Carey will spend goes to television. In David Garth and away the ablest campaign magician in the field.
Duryea will turn over at least half of his campaign budget to John Deardourff, a media specialist who was at one time a researcher for the Republican state committee. Besides the flood of TV ads, the voters can see the two candidates in a series of debates and interviewers contrived by their specialists.
One back in New York is that there is no Senate race to give the campaign a national fillip. Sen. Jacob Javits, a Republican, is up in 1980 for a fifth term. He insists that he will not declare until early that year whether he intends to make another try. Javits has worked hard to build up the party through a series of Republican forums on issues both here in the city and upstate. In impressive speeches in the Senate he has expressed his great concern with the poverty of the Third World and the huge loans, public and private, floated by the industrialized West in what Javits feels is a misguided rescue effort.
Increasingly touted as a rival to Javits is a newcomer to politics, but hardly a newcomer to the public. Flashing like a comet across the rather dull sky, Henry Kissinger is going into state after state to support Republican candidates with a brilliance and a humor that brings those chicken-patty fund-raisers to life. At the same time he has not neglected his own interests, speaking for large fees to corporate audiences.
Kissinger and his wife, Nancy, have bought a handsome duplex apartment on the East River, and he would have no trouble establishing his residence here. But he has said he would not run for the Senate unless Javits bowed out. That could mean a long wait, and as one of his friends put it:
"Why should Henry want the Senate? He's got everything as it is and a lot more, too."
In the view of cynical politicans, he would take the Senate as one leg up on the presidency. This would mean an amendment to the Constitution; since he is foreign-born - born in Germany, escaping in his youth from the Nazis - he is barred from the highest off the land.
But that is a long way from this somewhat [WORD ILLEGIBLE] campaign. Carey began far down in the polls with 137 percent as compared with more than 45 percent, for Duryea. That gulf has been narrowed until today they are neck and neck, 40 to 41, with 19 percent undecided. Carey was greatly helped by President Carter's rise in the polls after Camp David, and Carter is to be welcomed here on October 28. So the smart money is on the governor.