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Thread: The Race for New York Governor

  1. #1

    Default The Race for New York Governor

    Eliot Spitzer to run for New York governor

    Tue Dec 7,11:00 AM ET

    By Christopher Grimes in New York

    Eliot Spitzer, New York's crusading attorney general, will formally announce on Tuesday his next big campaign: a run for New York governor.

    While Mr Spitzer's political ambitions have hardly been a secret, the formal announcement marks the next phase in a young political career that has already won Mr Spitzer national recognition. His investigations into conflicts of interest on Wall Street have won him admirers who see him as a champion of consumer rights - and just as many powerful detractors in the business world.

    Mr Spitzer has already raked in millions of dollars worth of contributions this year, though political observers estimate he will need to raise at least $40m over the course of the two-year campaign. He will hold a major fund-raiser in New York on Thursday that is expected to bring in between $2m-$3m.

    The governorship of New York has unusual status in American politics. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D Roosevelt held the office before ascending to the White House. But even more New York governors ultimately fell short - including Al Smith and Nelson Rockefeller, who eventually served as vice president under Gerald Ford.

    Whether incumbent George Pataki will seek a fourth term as governor is still unknown. He was given the plum job of introducing President George W Bush during the Republican National Convention, which immediately placed him on a list of possible presidential contendors for 2008.

    Though it is unclear whether Mr Spitzer will face Mr Pataki or another Republican, his campaign has already received a big boost.

    He became the presumptive Democratic favorite last month when Chuck Schumer, the senior Democratic Senator from New York, said he would not run for governor. Mr Schumer was re-elected to his Senate seat in November by a record margin and could have waged an expensive primary campaign against Mr Spitzer.

    Once it became clear that Mr Schumer would not run, Mr Spitzer's fund-raising efforts were kicked into high gear, New York Democrats said.

    Mr Spitzer's fund-raising luncheon on Thursday, a $1,000-per-person affair, is expected to draw prominent Democrats from Wall Street, the real-estate business as well as attorneys and labour leaders.

    Reports have suggested that he would announce his candidacy there, but Mr Spitzer is understood to be against the idea of declaring his intentions at a paid political event. Mr Spitzer's office would say only that he is expected to address the issue some time this week.

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    After 12 years of Pataki we need a change in Albany!

  2. #2

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    This is wonderful. Eliot Spitzer is the best that New York State, and possibly every state, has to offer. He would have made the a terrific Attorney General under Kerry, too.

  3. #3

    Default I Agree w. you Schadenfrau!!

    Eliot Spitzer for New York State Governor!!

  4. #4

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    I'm no big fan of Pataki, and I respect Eliot Spitzer as an Attorney General, but what I don't see is his vision or strategy for the state. I've skimmed about looking for even cursory details on his website, but he gives none. Maybe that is smart, in that, much can change between now and an election two years from now. Until then, he can cruise for a long time on his name recognition without having to commit himself to any given position... but as a voter, I'd like more information.

    I suspect he'll win regardless. I have a sense among those I speak to that it feels like a foregone conclusions that he will be our next Governor.

  5. #5

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    He's a highly effective attorney general. How well it will translate into governorship I question.

    I fear he'd leave behind quite a few disillusioned supporters if he couldn't effect a modest turnaround in the fortunes of cities upstate or jumpstart the Ground Zero reconstruction project.

    He seems altogether more attuned to restriction and regulation than to setting out plans for the state's future. I hope that's only a consequence of the limitations of his current position.

  6. #6

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    July 29, 2005
    A Date That Lives in Oratory

    By CLYDE HABERMAN

    IT did not take George E. Pataki long - he managed to get out all of four words - before he invoked Sept. 11 in announcing that he would not run again for governor. The terrorist attacks of 2001 weren't even the subject. He was talking about the inspiration that he drew from his father.

    "A few months after Sept. 11, someone gave my daughter Emily an old photograph," Mr. Pataki began his remarks on Wednesday. "It was a picture of my father." He then reminisced about Louis Pataki, who was an assistant postmaster and a volunteer firefighter in Peekskill, N.Y. He died in 1996, a firm believer, the son said, in giving back to his community.

    What was the 9/11 connection? Nothing.

    But few are the public moments when Mr. Pataki fails to raise the specter of that terrible day, no matter what the setting. Like other elected officials, he deplores the way some people exploit the attacks for commercial or political gain. But his own interests are another story.

    Introducing President Bush at the Republican National Convention last summer, he mentioned Sept. 11 or the World Trade Center or ground zero no fewer than 13 times. He started by singling out people from Oregon, Iowa and Pennsylvania for their post-disaster generosity.

    Was it coincidental that all three states were pivotal in the presidential election, with Iowa's caucuses providing the first test of the candidates' strength? Those were not details likely to have been overlooked by the governor, now contemplating his own race for the White House in 2008.

    It seems reasonable to assume that if he does run, he will use 9/11 again and again to emphasize his leadership skills. On that battlefield, he just might encounter competition from a certain former New York mayor who has prospered mightily himself because of Sept. 11, earning millions on the strength of his much-admired performance that day.

    Mr. Pataki cannot have forgotten the slapping that he took from Andrew M. Cuomo during the 2002 campaign for governor. "There was one leader for 9/11: it was Rudy Giuliani," said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.

    And Mr. Pataki? "He held the leader's coat," Mr. Cuomo said dismissively.

    Those harsh remarks helped do in Mr. Cuomo, by affirming his reputation for abrasiveness. In time, he quit the race. The thing is, though, his crack about Mr. Pataki struck some New Yorkers as not entirely off the mark. Ever since, the governor has labored to erase lingering images of him as a 9/11 valet.

    But very few of the Sept. 11 evocations, from him or other leaders, include calls for personal sacrifice in a time of war.

    That point has been noted several times in this space. It arose again this week with a report that men and women in uniform are chafing under the realization that they alone bear the burden of the war on terror, repackaged lately by the Bush administration as the "global struggle against violent extremism."

    One military officer, back from a tour in Iraq, was quoted in this newspaper as saying, "Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us."

    IF anything, some in New York have embraced the opposite of sacrifice. They almost go out of their way to fill the coffers of the country that supplied 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers, oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

    Walking around town during the oppressive heat of recent days, you could see one business after another - a P.C. Richard store on the Upper West Side, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle, the Quiksilver store in Times Square - with front doors flung wide open while their energy-gobbling air-conditioning poured onto the sidewalk.

    Why be so wasteful? "It's policy," said a clerk in a clothing store at Broadway and 87th Street, where the doors stayed open. "We have to do it."

    Talk to groups in the city like New York Cares, Habitat for Humanity and Volunteers of America. All say there is a yearning for sacrifice ready to be harnessed if only the political will existed to do it. They saw that after Sept. 11, when the numbers of their volunteers soared.

    "The desire to give and to give back is very strong," said Roland Lewis, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity in New York City. "That's part of human nature, ever more so in this time."

    But then, Mr. Pataki surely knows that. It was a lesson, he said, that he learned from his father, who "always had time for a kind word, a neighborly gesture or to lend a helping hand as a volunteer in our community."


  7. #7

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    Former Mass. Gov. Weld to battle for top NY job

    By Ellen Wulfhorst1 hour, 7 minutes ago

    Former Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts is eyeing the governor's job in neighboring New York, where experts say he faces a longshot battle against heavily favored Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

    Weld, a Republican and native New Yorker who moved back in 2000 to work as an investment advisor, said in a New York Times interview published on Friday he wants to return to public service, saying, "My juices are really flowing for this race."

    Weld, who left office in Massachusetts in 1997, is considered moderate, likable and adept at fund-raising, all assets he would need to face Spitzer in a state where Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans.

    Spitzer has made a national name for himself busting white-collar crime on Wall Street. He is considered the strong front-runner to succeed Republican Gov. George Pataki, who recently said he would not seek a fourth term as he eyes a possible White House run.

    "Weld's problem really is that Eliot Spitzer is such a substantial figure in job performance, favorable rating, name recognition, and he's raised so much money," said political strategist Joseph Mercurio.

    "He has to raise a lot more money than Spitzer because Spitzer goes in with so much more going for him," Mercurio said. "Weld is a pretty good pick, but it's hard to visualize anybody going against Spitzer at this point."

    A poll taken in May by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute showed Spitzer bashing Weld 60 to 16 percent in a hypothetical matchup for next year's gubernatorial race if both won their respective party's nomination.

    Weld built a reputation as a social moderate but fiscally conservative politician in Massachusetts, where he also entertained voters with playful antics like quoting Grateful Dead lyrics and jumping fully clothed into the Charles River.

    He served seven years in the state's top job, leaving in 1997 when President Bill Clinton chose him as ambassador to Mexico -- a nomination that failed, largely due to opposition from Sen. Jesse Helms that he was too liberal.

    "A Weld candidacy would be good for the Republican Party and good for the voters of the state of New York," said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at the City University of New York. "Bill Weld is a substantial public figure. He's got an offbeat enough personality. He is a serious contender."

    He's also got serious problems, added Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

    "Republicans are in deep trouble, so much so they had to reach to find somebody to run against potentially Spitzer with the sole ability to raise money and be a good debater, which he can do," said Sheinkopf. "They have no home-grown candidates. It's going to cost them tens of millions to begin to create a persona for Weld, and the only way to do that is television."

    Besides, Sheinkopf added, it may boil down to one key facet of life in America -- baseball.

    "Are New Yorkers who have a traditional rivalry with Boston and Massachusetts, because of the Red Sox vs. the Yankees, going to accept a guy from a state they don't particularly like?" he asked. "They have an extraordinary amount of work to do in what will be a very expensive race if they have any hope at all of being successful."

    Granted the mayor of New York City is a Massachusetts native and a Republican but, pundits note, Michael Bloomberg's personal fortune and ability to spend $74 million of his own money on his first campaign may have tipped the scales in his favor.

    "Weld has the ingredients of what the Republicans need to do to win statewide, but that doesn't mean he can pull it off," said political pollster Lee Miringoff.

    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...m/newyork_dc_1

  8. #8

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    Weld is more moderate than your garden variety Republican. HIS judges were the one's who upheld gay marriage in Massachusetts last year, and he is hated by many conservatives (in '96 he wanted to speak at the RNC on behalf of pro-choice Republicans.) However, I'm still voting for Spitzer. The fact that this guy chooses to associate himself with Karl Rove tells me he's a shill. And while he's technically a native of NY, the fact that he is now conveniently running for Governor of another state after bailing on his constituents in Mass. hurts the state GOP in their attacks against Hillary (how can they attack her on the issue of being from out of state and exploiting her Senate seat when one of their own is doing something similar?) BTW, will the Conservative Party officials endorse him? If not, then he is almost certain to lose, since no Republican has won state-wide without their help in decades.

  9. #9

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    Suozzi Poised To Challenge Spitzer

    BY FRANK ELTMAN - Associated Press
    January 12, 2006
    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/25729

    MINEOLA, N.Y. - Fresh from a landslide re-election victory in Nassau County - once one of the country's foremost Republican strongholds - Thomas Suozzi appears poised to cash in his political capital by challenging Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor.

    Although a relative unknown, Mr. Suozzi's dreams of launching from the county executive's seat in Mineola to the governor's mansion in Albany could get a boost of rocket fuel if the billionaire founder of Home Depot, Ken Langone, follows through on his promise to pump millions into a Suozzi primary challenge. Mr. Langone is a Spitzer foe who has tangled with the politician over his Wall Street crackdown.

    "Maybe that Wall Street money will win him some recognition," the director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Maurice Carroll, said. Mr. Carroll said it was unlikely Mr. Suozzi would be discouraged by a poll last month that showed Mr. Spitzer - the two-term state attorney general - holding a commanding 69-11 lead over his potential challenger. The primary is not until September.

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    This is a foolish move on the part of Suozzi, who I happen to like.

  11. #11

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    The rumor from the papers on Long Island is that Suozzi may actually run on the Republican ticket, since will probably not be able to beat Spitzer in the primary.

  12. #12
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    Which one do you think will be better for the city?

  13. #13

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    Suozzi says will accept GOP support

    BY ERROL A. COCKFIELD JR.
    ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF

    January 13, 2006, 9:01 PM EST

    As his exploration of a run for governor gained more attention Friday, Democratic Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said he would accept cross-endorsements from other parties, including Republicans.

    When a reporter asked during an interview if he would embrace such endorsements, Suozzi said he is seeking the Democratic nod first, but he would not turn down the support of other parties.

    "Who would?" he said. "I have always enjoyed the support of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. I would not have won here in Nassau County without 100,000 Republican voters."

    Late Wednesday, Suozzi filed papers with the state Board of Elections to create a political action committee -- "Friends of Tom Suozzi" -- as he pursues a primary challenge to state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

    He is expected to announce his candidacy formally in the next few weeks.

    Suozzi's recent acknowledgment that some Republicans, whom he has not named, had approached him about the possibility of endorsing his run for governor has angered some Democrats, including his political foes in the Spitzer camp. There are three GOP candidates in the race.

    Seven Democratic chairs, including Suffolk's Richard Schaffer, issued a statement Friday criticizing Suozzi for his openness to GOP backing, even though state Republican leaders said they had never reached out to Suozzi.

    "A good Democrat would never even consider doing such a thing," the statement said. "It demonstrates a shocking lack of party loyalty and principles."

    Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, a Suozzi supporter, called Schaffer a hypocrite because in the fall Schaffer supported a GOP cross-endorsement of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, a Democrat.

    Attacks from within Suozzi's party are unlikely to deter him. He has pursued a run for governor despite requests from top Democrats to abandon the race in favor of party unity.

    Spitzer, who has been a declared gubernatorial candidate for well over a year, has the fund-raising edge with $19 million on hand, compared to about $4 million for Suozzi.

    Spitzer also has received far more endorsements from unions and influential Democratic figures. Friday, he was endorsed at City Hall by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

    But Suozzi dismissed the value of endorsements and said, "People are more discerning these days."

    Suozzi followed his filing by issuing a statement Friday that he would travel the state to talk with residents about their concerns and his ideas for reforming government.

    His chief talking points will be his push to eliminate wasteful spending in the Medicaid program and his call to lower local property and school taxes.

    Spitzer spokesman Ryan Toohey said, "Spitzer has been traveling the state and talking about that issue for many years, along with other important issues like quality health care, a good education and job creation."

    Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

  14. #14

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    Pataki-ocracy: Its Sell-by Date Is Years Away

    By: Ben Smith
    Date: 1/23/2006
    Page:

    George Pataki’s shelf life as Governor expires in less than a year. The same cannot be said of some of his appointees. They will be around for a long time, and there’s little Mr. Pataki’s successor can do about it.

    Mr. Pataki will go down in history as a three-term Governor. In fact, however, his influence over policy and patronage will exceed that 12-year span.

    For example, Joseph Buono, a former Republican politician, will be overseeing $650 million in annual spending at the state Thruway Authority until 2011. Joe Seymour, a loyal retainer of Mr. Pataki for 30 years, will be running the $2 billion budget of the New York State Power Authority until 2009. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will remain in Republican hands after Mr. Pataki departs, as will New York’s contingent on the Port Authority board. Pataki appointees will probably control the state’s highest court until 2014, and will oversee the nascent, cash-rich Indian gambling industry until 2010.

    And that’s just the start.

    When people speculate about Mr. Pataki’s legacy, they usually focus on three issues: tax cuts, conservation and public debt. Forgotten is a more concrete legacy—a series of key appointments that will give Mr. Pataki’s friends and allies control over areas of policy and patronage well into the term of his successor. Aides to Mr. Pataki say that the Governor is determined not to repeat what many see as a mistake of his predecessor, Mario Cuomo, in failing to lock in many of his appointees to key state institutions, particularly the state’s vast system of public authorities.

    Critics believe this will box in Mr. Pataki’s successor, regardless of which party wins the Governor’s office in November. “This is a tremendously threatening thing to the incoming Governor,” said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who has been a relentless critic of the public authorities. “The authority system will remain this enormously undemocratic—both big ‘D’ and small ‘d’—hole in the middle of the government.”

    A spokesman for Mr. Pataki, David Catalfamo, said the Governor is simply fulfilling his constitutional obligations to make appointments, and called the criticism “ridiculous.”

    Designed to insulate policy from politics and to give state agencies the ability to borrow money independently, the state’s 700-plus public authorities include everything from the Dormitory Authority, which has more debt than most states, to obscure regional bodies like the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority. The agencies have been a steady source of scandal and a perennial target for criticism. They’re a deeply political, high-stakes arm of state government where political appointments are the norm, and where lobbying and patronage are traditional. (A reform bill that Mr. Pataki signed last week will increase their transparency—and also add a new set of appointive positions for the Governor to fill.)

    Allegations of the “abuse” of authorities are equally traditional and bipartisan. But for many Democrats who served under Mr. Cuomo, the story of his last months in 1994 is one of missed political opportunities and what many—including aides to Mr. Pataki—see as a tactical mistake by the former Governor.

    The name they remember is Peter Stangl, Mr. Cuomo’s chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His term had expired, along with two other commissioners, and instead of reappointing him, Mr. Cuomo simply left him in place as a “holdover,” a status that one former Cuomo aide said gave the administration more control over its appointees.

    When Mr. Pataki shocked the political establishment by defeating Mr. Cuomo in 1995, he was able to sweep aside Mr. Stangl and other key holdovers, putting his stamp on state government far more quickly than he would have managed otherwise.

    Mr. Cuomo didn’t respond to a request for his views of the end of his term, but his son Andrew, now a candidate for State Attorney General, defended the failure to push through last-minute appointments to state boards.

    “It’s not highly ethical,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You want to institutionalize patronage, and you want to handcuff the future administration from implementing its philosophy and its vision.”

    (Not that Governor Cuomo passed up the chance to make a few midnight appointments. Two days before his departure, he put three of his aides on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Mr. Pataki’s spokeswoman at the time, Zenia Mucha, called the appointments an “outrage.”)

    Others in both parties defend the system, and the Governor’s prerogative to do what is, after all, enshrined in state law.

    “This is the way things are supposed to be designed, so people have some institutional protection and aren’t just subject to the whims of their political leaders,” said State Senator Eric Schneiderman, a West Side Democrat.

    What is unquestioned, however, is Mr. Pataki’s sweeping authority. Last year, he submitted 250 nominations to the State Senate, according to a comprehensive list provided by a state official on the condition that he not be named. The Governor’s office put Republicans and conservatives in positions that range from important policy posts to low-paid patronage jobs that will allow workers to spend enough time in state government to collect taxpayer-supported pensions.

    The appointees include Republican Party activists who will remain in place after Mr. Pataki’s term expires. Mallory Factor, a conservative who oversees New York’s influential Monday Meeting, was confirmed last year to a three-year unpaid term on the State Banking Board. Oleg Gutnik, a former Republican candidate for the New York City Council, was confirmed to a six-year term on the state’s Minority Health Council, which carries no salary but reimburses for expenses.

    There are also valuable paid posts available. Last year, Mr. Pataki re-appointed Candace Finnegan, whom the Albany Times Union once described as his wife’s “best friend,” to a post on the Workers’ Compensation Board, at an annual salary of $90,800. Her term will run until Dec. 31, 2012. The Governor also raised eyebrows last year by appointing an executive chamber staffer, Caroline Ahl, to a $90,800 post on the state’s Civil Service Commission, a body that oversees the state workforce. The former Assembly Republican leader, Charles Nesbitt, was confirmed last year to a term with seven years remaining as president of the state’s Tax Appeals Tribunal, at a salary of $126,167, despite complaints from Democrats that he lacked relevant experience.

    State officials said they expect some of this year’s key fights to focus on appointments. Thirteen of Mr. Pataki’s nominees remain unconfirmed by the Senate, including Ms. Ahl. Mr. Pataki and State Senator Joseph Bruno are in a fight over the composition of two influential boards: the Public Employment Relations Board and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. The chairs of both boards will shape state policy into the next decade, and both of Mr. Pataki’s nominations for the posts remain unconfirmed.

    The fights speak to the two kinds of power that Mr. Pataki will continue to wield after his term ends. The Public Employment Relations Board fight is a policy fight, with the labor unions setting themselves against Mr. Pataki’s choice for chairman, Michael Cuevas.

    The board, known as PERB, serves as an arbiter in disputes between the state and public-sector unions, whose leaders are unhappy with the way it has been run in recent years.

    “It’s become a [Republican and conservative] board, and the decisions that have been handed down by PERB are increasingly against unions,” said State Senator Diane Savino, a New York City Democrat close to labor who raised objections to Mr. Cuevas’ nomination. “You don’t want to get stuck with these people.”

    A Sure Bet?

    The N.Y.S. Racing and Wagering Board, by contrast, is a plum of Albany’s extensive lobbying industry, where—as in Washington—Indian tribes and their backers invest millions in legislation with the hopes of making billions in new casinos. Mr. Pataki has nominated his former Parks Commissioner, Bernadette Castro, to fill the position, but her confirmation has been held up over Mr. Pataki’s attempt to remove her predecessor, a former State Senator, from the board.

    Officials of the State Senate and the Governor’s office said they expect the sides to reach a deal on confirmations shortly, and that the flow of confirmations should soon resume.

    Democrats, meanwhile, regard the appointments to the state public authorities as a burden on Mr. Pataki’s successor, who, they assume, will be Democrat Eliot Spitzer, the current State Attorney General.

    “It’s terrible for poor Eliot,” said one prominent Democrat.

    And Mr. Brodsky offered a prediction: “These Soviet-style bureaucracies are going to show their ability to survive an election.”

    copyright © 2005 the new york observer, L.P.

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    Spitzer Has Just Taken in $1 Million From Lobbyists He Aims To Reform

    BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    January 30, 2006
    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/26665

    Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has positioned himself as an enforcer against special interests, has turned to lobbyists who represent special interests to help him raise money for his gubernatorial bid.

    At a major fund-raising gala in December at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City, lobbyists raised nearly $1 million for Mr. Spitzer's campaign, according to sources. The amount that lobbyists brought in at that one event is equal to about 5% of Mr. Spitzer's entire campaign war chest.

    Some of the most powerful lobbyists in the state were on hand that evening, collecting checks from their clients or donating thousands of dollars themselves.

    It's perfectly legal for lobbyists to give money to a political campaign or round up bundles of contributions. But the amount of money being raised by Mr. Spitzer from those who are paid to influence policy is raising questions about his pledges to stamp out what he has called the "pay-to-play culture" in Albany.

    "Why would the lobbyists raise the money except in expectation that they would have access to a Spitzer administration?" said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a state government watchdog group.

    The fund-raising help provided by lobbyists to Mr. Spitzer is in part a reflection of the fact that many in Albany presume that he will be New York's next governor and are eager to form a relationship before the election in November.

    The significant involvement of lobbyists in Mr. Spitzer's fund-raising efforts also is part of a national trend in political fund raising and, spurred by the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, comes amid renewed calls for a tightening of restrictions.

    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that a review of Federal Election Commission records conducted by the Center for Public Integrity shows that the number of national lawmakers who list lobbyists as treasurers of their reelection or political action committees has increased to 71 from 15 in 1998.

    Lobbyists who attended the gala denied that they were attempting to buy influence from the leading candidate for governor and insisted Mr. Spitzer is not a politician who is susceptible to influence peddling.

    "If you get any influence, you earn it through being scrupulously honest and giving good advice," said one of Albany's most successful lobbyists, James Featherstonhaugh, who raised $25,000 for Mr. Spitzer through the event in December. He said he and other lobbyists at the gala raised money from sources such as their clients and Democratic Party activists.

    While accusing Mr. Horner of being "a little paranoid" about the influence that lobbyists have through their fundraising efforts, he said "clients like their lobbyists to be active politically and show they can raise money politically."

    Among the clients of his firm, Featherstonhaugh, Wiley, Clyne & Cordo, is the health care workers union, 1199 SEIU, which pays the company an annual fee of $60,000.

    Many of the lobbyists who raised an estimated $935,000 at the event have deep Democratic Party roots and several served in the Cuomo administration.

    Another powerful lobbyist at the event who raised money was Sid Davidoff of Davidoff Malito & Hutcher.

    Mr. Davidoff, who was a close adviser to Mayor Dinkins, and who decades ago was an aide to Mayor Lindsay, raised $10,000, sources said. Altria (formerly Philip Morris) is paying his firm $171,000 to lobby the governor, the Senate, and the Assembly on the subjects of cigarettes and tobacco, according to filings with the state lobby commission.

    Roy Lasky, the executive director of the New York State Dental Association, which represents 13,000 dentists in New York, co-chaired the fund-raiser at the Sheraton and pledged to raise $75,000.

    Mr. Spitzer's campaign did not return calls for comment yesterday.

    Mr. Spitzer is one of several candidates in the governor's race to claim the mantle of reform. In speeches, the attorney general has railed against the influence wielded by special interest groups and has called for stiffening the laws governing gifts to state employees and candidates. As Albany is considering tightening gift restrictions, Mr. Spitzer, Governor Pataki, and the Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, have said they favor a ban on all gifts to lawmakers.

    "We need to reduce the undue influence of special interests by ending the pay-to-play culture that exists in Albany," Mr. Spitzer said in a November speech at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. "Too often decisions about how to spend the peoples' money are based on who pays for a dinner or a golf outing, or who contributes the most to the campaigns of decision makers. It has to end."

    In that speech, Mr. Spitzer proposed prohibiting those "who do business with the state from giving gifts of any sort to state employees." He said if he were governor he would push the state to adopt a "blanket ban on contributions to state candidates from those who do business with the state." Mr. Spitzer himself has vowed that will not accept donations from anyone with "pending business" before his office.

    He said: "In Albany - as it was on Wall Street - the status quo is a system that lacks accountability. It is a system that is controlled by special interests. It is a system that is not efficient, is not open and transparent."

    Mr. Spitzer reported two weeks ago that he had more than $19 million in the bank, about four times more than his Democratic rival, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, reported having. A former governor of Massachusetts, William Weld, led the Republican field in fundraising with $2 million.

    Mr. Spitzer's campaign in December said that the attorney general expect ed to raise $4 million to $5 million at the Sheraton fund-raiser.

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