INSIDE THE BELTWAY: In the hotly contested New York Senate race, neither Rudy nor Hillary is beyond reproach

There are close races on the horizon that will affect control of the Senate after 2000 - none more interesting than the contest in New York between Hillary and Rudy.

There are close races on the horizon that will affect control of the Senate after 2000 - none more interesting than the contest in New York between Hillary and Rudy.

There are close races on the horizon that will affect control of

the Senate after 2000 - none more interesting than the contest in New

York between Hillary and Rudy.



New Yorkers are a curious lot, particularly when it comes to the

Senate.



They accept that they are really more Americans than New Yorkers, and

statewide elections are often considered referenda on national

issues.



That is why the ’carpetbagger’ issue will not carry much weight against

Mrs. Clinton. Starting with Robert Kennedy’s election in 1964, the last

three Senators in that seat have been carpetbaggers - Democrat Kennedy,

Republican James Buckley of Connecticut, and Democrat Daniel Moynihan, a

voter in Massachusetts when his campaign began. Each defeated long-time,

dug-in New Yorkers. Carpetbagger? Fuhgeddaboudit!



But there are issues. New York City has scores of residents from China,

Italy, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, there are more

Jewish voters in the Big Apple than in Israel, and probably more Polish

Americans than in any Polish city except Warsaw.



So when Hillary Clinton sat quietly by in Israel while Mrs. Arafat

complained of the use of tear gas by the Israeli army against unarmed

Palestinians, it caused a firestorm in New York.



There are cross currents as well. Life in New York City is

unquestionably more pleasant (crime and fear are down; the streets and

the subway cars are cleaner) since Giuliani became mayor. On the other

hand, on some social issues, he suffers. His attempt to shut down the

Brooklyn Museum for bad taste was deeply unpopular, and his idea of

arresting and jailing (on Thanksgiving!) the homeless who refused to go

to a shelter, only made him seem heartless and mean-spirited.



Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, has put her wrong foot forward on a

few occasions as well. It was a mistake not to challenge Mrs. Arafat,

and not to concede the error. It was probably a worse mistake to

challenge the president’s amnesty for some Puerto Rican ’political

prisoners’ (considering the amnesty was highly political, it made her,

oddly enough, seem ’political’). The circumstances surrounding buying

the house in tony Westchester County were murky and unnecessary, and she

should have known (or been told) that putting on a Yankee cap didn’t

make her a New Yorker, just a tourist. But she’s the spouse of a popular

president who is stronger than ever with African-Americans, Puerto

Ricans and other ethnic minorities, who is a friend of Israel and who

brought peace to Ireland - and she is a Democrat. New York is a

Democratic state, all else being equal. So far, it’s equal.



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