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Offensive Lineman

Mark Green’s 23-year-old political director tackles the tabloids and New York’s political establishment—and wants you to know that his boss isn’t arrogant.

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Only six weeks before the state Democratic Convention, and political chatter (not to mention the polls) has it that it’s fourth and long for Green’s attorney-general campaign against Andrew Cuomo. Greg Sargent spoke to Corey Johnson, who got his first taste of the media maelstrom when he came out as a gay high-school football player.

The Post says Green told state chair Denny Farrell that he’d join forces with insurgent gubernatorial candidate Tom Suozzi if Farrell didn’t help Green at the nominating convention.
That was unequivocally untrue. Farrell and Green both told [the Post reporter] that it was untrue.

So the Post’s out to get Green?
When it prints a provably untrue piece, it raises red flags.

Why won’t the image of Green as arrogant ever go away?
When the tabs and the media paint you that way it’s hard to change it. In 2001, Bloomberg’s $73.9 million magnified every little misstep. If you talk to the average voter, Green is still looked at in a positive light.

So why is the Dem Establishment with Cuomo?
When your father’s been governor for twelve years, you have plenty of chits to call in. But Green has won seven elections. Andrew has never won anything. His 2002 campaign [for governor] was a disaster.

Green’s running as the outsider, but he’s been a prominent Dem-party insider for two decades.
He never quite fit in. One union boss once said he liked Mark but that he was “too independent.” People who know Mark realize he’s an average New Yorker. He eats breakfast at the same schmucky diner every morning.

How can an Upper East Side Jew compete with a Cuomo upstate?
More than 50 percent of the statewide vote is in the five boroughs. People upstate know Cuomo because of his father—which doesn’t necessarily translate into votes.

Yes, but how can Green get known when he’s way behind on fund-raising?
A million dollars buys a blanket ad buy in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.

How much will you spend?
Between $4.5 million and $5 million in the primary.

How’d you end up working for Green?
I was captain of my high-school football team, and came out my junior year. I was briefly a gay poster child—on the front page of the Times, on 20/20. My first job was on Green’s 2001 mayoral campaign.

So why should gays vote for Green?
His record—he supported the gay-rights bill in 1986, and as consumer-affairs commissioner exposed pharmaceuticals to make sure aids drugs were priced fairly.

But even much of the gay political Establishment is with Cuomo—why?
Politics.


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