Cuomo's likely victory is watched closely by N.Y. Republicans. GOP worries his coattails could erase state Senate edge
Mario M. Cuomo is looking for a record-breaking win as he seeks his second term as governor, and chances are good that he will get it. As a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 1988, something Governor Cuomo is not actively seeking but has not definitely ruled out, his percentage of victory will be watched throughout the country. Republican opponent Andrew O'Rourke, Westchester County executive, was never really expected to win the race, but a lackluster campaign has even cost him financial support from the national GOP political organization.
Republicans are more concerned that Cuomo's coattails could erase a GOP majority in the state Senate, where Republicans now hold a 35 to 26 edge, say political observers. The state assembly is firmly in the hands of Democrats, with a 96-to-54 member difference.
Cuomo's approval rating is high, and even GOP critics admit he may get at least 60 percent of the vote in November's general election. He has a $10 million campaign fund, and is running on a platform that has something for both spectrums of his party.
On one hand there are tax cuts, increased jobs, and a balanced budget. On the other hand, Cuomo, a thoughtful man who quotes philosophers and has published two volumes of his own diaries, also supports liberal issues such as opposition to the death penalty or laws that would make abortion illegal (though he personally opposes abortion).
But Democratic strength is not a foregone conclusion in New York state. While Cuomo may be one of the party's bright stars, this is also the home of Republican Rep. Jack Kemp, who appears likely to return to Congress despite a challenge from Buffalo City Councilor James Keane, and of Republican Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato.
If the popular governor is a shoo-in, the other major Democratic candidate faces an uphill battle. Mark Green, who staged an upset in last week's primary, undoubtedly hopes that the Governor's strength will help him in his bid to unseat Senator D'Amato.
Mr. Green, a liberal Democrat who has long been a consumer advocate, has received Cuomo's promise of support. But Senator D'Amato has lost no time in portraying himself as a mainstream politician while calling Green an ``ultraliberal.'' D'Amato hopes to get a substantial number of crossover votes from Democrats, who outnumber Republicans here 3.8 million to 2.6 million in voter registration.
Indeed, he has the tacit support of New York City's Democratic mayor, Edward I. Koch, who last week called D'Amato a ``superb'' senator while saying he would not endorse Green. Many Democrats were angered at Mayor Koch's move. And most Democratic politicians are ready to support Green. On Monday, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan endorsed Green, saying that Democrats must regain control of the Senate.
A wild card in the Senate race is whether Green's primary opponent, former Power Authority chairman John Dyson, will run a vigorous race on the Liberal Party line. Mr. Dyson received that party's nomination before the September primary, and will be on the November ballot. After the election, Dyson said he would continue to campaign, but he has been quiet since then.
D'Amato's current strength has changed his image from ``Senator Pothole to Senator Invincible,'' says one political observer, refering to D'Amato's penchant for attention to state issues.
Green supporters answer that D'Amato is far from invulnerable, and that D'Amato's record, including his support of the Gramm-Rudman deficit-cutting law, have not served the interests of New York state.
But Democrats are still firmly in control here. And despite a growing moderate trend amoung Democrats nationally, New York still fields liberal candidates like Green. In Westchester County, former Congresswoman Bella Abzug is seeking a comeback by challenging one-term Congressman Joseph DioGuardi.