Maer Roshan: Now that we’ve spent five weeks fixated on Florida, I thought we’d start off closer to home with the mayoral race, which is quickly heating up. Now the Post is reporting that Bill Clinton may have his eye on Rudy’s job.
Al D’Amato: Please. Could he run and win? Obviously. Will he? Never! It’s preposterous.
Ed Koch: I think he might want to run, but Hillary won’t let him. In this city, the mayor is much more important than the senator, and Hillary isn’t about to be overshadowed again. It’s too bad, ‘cause he’d be a fun mayor. Like Jimmy Walker without the corruption – lots of style, nightclubs, Hollywood, and no insults. That would be a nice change.
M.R.: So let’s assume Clinton isn’t running. Who’s the strongest contender?
Al: Ferrer, Vallone, and Hevesi have all thrown their hats in the ring, but the odds-on favorite is Mark Green. He’s working his tail off. He has a strong following among Democratic activists and runs very well in the minority community too. So it’s his to lose. Now, having said that, the wild card is Al Sharpton. I have no doubt Sharpton is going to run, and when he does, he’ll force a runoff, because in a crowded field no one candidate will be able to top 40 percent. Sharpton may even end up clobbering everyone in the pack. But if he doesn’t run, Green will be very hard to beat.
M.R.: So why is there such antipathy toward Green? Among some Democrats, his victory is seen as a not-too-exciting inevitability, like Gore during the primaries.
Al: People are concerned about some of Green’s past positions. He’s viewed as an old-style liberal who won’t be good for business. I’m not saying that’s the case, but that’s what people believe. Personally, I think he’s very bright and will surprise people. You know, when Ed here first ran for office, people thought he was a little kooky, too, but now look at him! Maybe Green will turn out to be more capable and moderate than people give him credit for.
Ed: Hold on, Al! You’re usually pretty astute, but I disagree with you about Green. Mark is quite smart, but he’s a pain in the ass, and everybody knows it. Laughs. He just irritates people! And now he has Ralph Nader like an albatross around his neck! I myself am for Vallone, but I think that on the Republican line Michael Bloomberg might have a chance. I recently had lunch with him at The Four Seasons and he asked me my advice. I told him Republicans in this town only win every 30 years, when some Democrat fucks up and a Republican rides in to save the day, like La Guardia, Lindsay, Giuliani. Bloomberg would be following a Republican, so he’s at a disadvantage. But it helps him that the city’s economic bubble is about to burst. He can run on the theme that as a billionaire businessman, he is the only one with the expertise to keep the city prosperous.
Al: Maybe, but let me tell you, the candidate who’d trounce them all if he chose to is Carl McCall. Gracie Mansion would be his for the asking because he’s viewed very favorably by both the business community and the white power Establishment. He towers over the field physically and politically. And I think he could really help heal race relations in our city, which are still tenuous.
M.R.: Problem is, McCall doesn’t want to be mayor. He wants to be governor.
Ed: True. They tried to convince him to run last time around, and he refused. Though why anyone wants to be governor is beyond me. Laughs.
M.R: Moving on to the Strange Bedfellows department. The Post’s Fred Dicker claimed in a recent column that Democrats are grumbling at what they see as an unseemly political flirtation between Chuck Schumer and Pataki. Have you heard that?
Al: I heard it and dismissed it. Schumer’s big crime was pointing out that the economy upstate isn’t nearly as bad as Hillary Clinton claimed it was during the campaign. He’s right, but it’s not like he’s campaigning for Pataki. That’s bull!
Ed: I’m not sure, Al. I think since Hillary’s election, Schumer has been desperate to find a way to maintain his stature as New York’s senior senator. He knows he’s in danger of being eclipsed by a star who burns everything in her way. To make up for it, Chuck’s decided to align himself with the other big power in the state, the governor. His major goal is to maintain his hegemony, but it’s a losing battle.