N.Y. Issues Forums Give Cuomo Chance To Survey the Field

Let the other potential Democratic presidential aspirants wear themselves out on the rubber-chicken circuit. New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo has a different idea.

Lask week Cuomo and the New York State Democratic Party held the first of their 1986 issues forums.

The guest of honor was Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.). Cuomo introduced him to several hundred party faithful and members of the business community in New York City, then took a seat in the front row and tossed out the first question, on SALT II. Former Kennedy speechwriter Theodore Sorensen went on to lead a general interrogation of Gephardt on a broad range of issues.

Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and former Virginia governor Charles S. Robb (D) have been invited up next week to talk about "the underclass" with public policy experts. In July, Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) gets his turn.

Cuomo aides say the governor wants to showcase his party's "deep talent" in the nation's biggest media market.

"Instead of being on C-SPAN, they can come to New York and get all sorts of good exposure," said Brad Johnson, a Cuomo aide in Washington.

But is that all that's going on?

In 1983, when Cuomo conducted a similar round of presidential forums, he was in the market for a candidate to endorse -- he went with Walter F. Mondale. This time, lots of folks on the guest list suspect that what Cuomo is shopping for is a running mate. Stevenson Won't Listen

Adlai E. Stevenson III, trying to run for governor of Illinois, Friday rejected the advice of Cook County Democratic Chairman Edward Vrdolyak that he rejoin the Democratic ticket and instead announced his third-party running mates on the "Solidarity" ticket.

Stevenson resigned as the Democratic nominee for governor in April to avoid running on the ticket with two Lyndon H. LaRouche followers, who also won in the March primary. He unsuccessfully tried to persuade other members of the Democratic ticket to join him in switching to a third party. He later lost an appeal to extend the filing deadlines for an independent candidacy.

Stevenson said he has chosen "nominal" candidates who were recommended by their Democratic opponents and who will give their support to the regular Democratic ticket.

Under state election law, Stevenson must file an entire slate of candidates, and he must get 25,000 signatures by Aug. 4 to qualify for the November ballot.

Vrdolyak said he does not believe Stevenson can beat Gov. James R. Thompson (R) by running as a third-party candidate. He also said Stevenson's slate could hurt the chances of other state and local Democratic candidates. Presidential Signals?

The newest political action committee on the block was formed last week by New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean (R).

The PAC was established to raise money so that Kean can travel around the country and share his political philosophy with fellow Republicans, according to his aides. The PAC is called the Fund for All Americans, the philosophy is called the "politics of inclusion" and the mission is to tell the party to reach out to voting blocs that have not traditionally been in the Republican fold.

Kean, who won reelection by a huge margin last year, also filed papers that will continue "Friends of Tom Kean," the state fund-raising committee formed for his reelection effort. Hart May Join Law Firm

Gary Hart has been talking to several Denver law firms, and it looks as if he will join one of Denver's largest, Davis Graham & Stubbs, when he retires from the Senate in January.

Meantime, Hart called the foreign policy lectures he delivered last week at Georgetown University "the most comprehensive" world view that any politician of either party had set forth since then-senator J. William Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" speeches in the 1960s. The Games Pollsters Play

Call it a preemptive strike or a before-the-fact rebuttal: Georgia Democratic Rep. Wyche Fowler Jr.'s pollster, Alan Secrest, called a news conference last week to announce that Fowler was still out in front of the Democratic field for the Aug. 12 Georgia Senate primary. Secrest said Fowler led his principal rival, former White House chief of staff Hamilton Jordan, by 36 to 32 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in a mid-May survey. In January, the lead was 32 to 27 percent.

This all seemed a bit odd. Why would a pollster for the front-runner proclaim that the race was "still up for grabs." Well, here's why: Jordan has just completed a $250,000 statewide media buy. Secrest warned that Jordan may now take a poll -- maybe he's already taken one -- in which Jordan's numbers will be inflated by the glow any candidate gets when he's on the air and his opponent isn't. Jordan could use such numbers to create a bandwagon effect and raise money. To be credible, Secrest cautioned, a pollster should observe a "seven-day buffer zone" after the completion of an unchallenged round of ads.

That's the parry. Thrust to follow