Is Cuomo’s Annointed AG Successor Starting to Panic?

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Panicking or just playing hardball?

A month ago, Kathleen Rice looked nearly unbeatable. The district attorney for Nassau County had double the money of her four male opponents, the implicit support of Andrew Cuomo, and a strong suburban base. Her campaign acted like it, too — she spoke in platitudes, stone-walled on policy specifics, kept the press at arm's length, and avoided the early debates.

Oops. In the past month, State Senator Eric Schneiderman, finally finished with the endless Albany budget, has carved away at Rice's lead. It started when it was revealed she didn't vote until her 30s. He got the support of the Times editorial page early, matched up with her on television, scooped up most of the major liberal political endorsements, and generally performed strongly enough to keep Cuomo — who would rather not deal with a savvy Albany player with his own base of support as an Attorney General — from explicitly endorsing against him.

While no one is really paying attention, Rice lost her spot as the front-runner. A recent Siena Institute poll shows Schneiderman up by two (although "undecided" is still the most popular, with 29 percent of the vote), and the other three opponents treated him like the front-runner, cross-examining him at last Wednesday's debate.

And, so, last night, in the small window between the end of the Jewish high holidays and beginning of 9/11, the Rice campaign started airing negative (her campaign calls them "competitive") ads blaming Schneidmerman — a staunch liberal — for last summer's Republican coup in the State Senate.

Rice Goes Negative [Capital Tonight]
The AG Primary Dogfight Between Schneiderman, Rice [Maggie Haberman/Politico]