While mayoral hopeful Alan Hevesi recently grabbed headlines by sparring with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer embarked on a more conventional path by hitting the campaign trail with a new supporter, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
In recent weeks, Hevesi has spent more time fighting with Giuliani than with fellow Queens rival Peter Vallone and his two other Democratic opponents.
Last week Giuliani charged Hevesi with improperly using his position as city comptroller to help a campaign contributor. Hevesi denied any wrongdoing.
The mayor Monday called Hevesi ethically challenged.
In a televised mayoral candidate debate Tuesday, Hevesi became embroiled in a acrimonious verbal duel with Public Advocate Mark Green over the same issue involving the campaign contribution.
In his battle with Giuliani, Hevesi has produced what he called a smoking gun document, charging the mayors office with covering up evidence that Human Resources Administration Commissioner Jason Turner had broken city conflict-of-interest rules in granting a $104 million welfare-to-work contract to a Virginia company.
The mayors office denied involvement in any coverup.
There has been speculation in some quarters that Giuliani is working behind the scenes to advance the campaign of Vallone, the longtime council speaker from Astoria.
While Giuliani and Hevesi were exchanging words, Ferrer received the endorsement of Sharpton Monday morning at the Mount Sinai United Christian Church on Staten Island, the first stop on a five-borough tour that also took the two men to Rochdale Village Mall and Jamaica Center in Queens.
The support of Sharpton, who was recently released from prison after serving a 90-day sentence for trespassing during a protest against U.S. Navy bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, comes after months of rather public speculation from the ministers camp. In May, Sharpton said he would endorse Ferrer only if he agreed to support black political candidates in council and other city races. When Ferrer refused to agree to that stipulation, the endorsement was delayed.
With Hevesi and Ferrer grabbing the spotlight in recent days, front runner Green has been campaigning vigorously and Vallone has been putting together a strong coalition of the elderly and unions.
The latest Quinnipiac College poll, released Aug. 14, has Green ahead of the field among likely Democratic voters. According to the poll, Green leads with 36 percent of the vote compared with 19 percent for Hevesi, 17 percent for Vallone, and 14 percent for Ferrer. The latter three are in a statistical dead heat, according to the pollsters.
A Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll released Aug. 16 also had Green leading among likely Democratic voters with 34 percent of the vote, compared to 17 percent for Hevesi, 17 percent for Ferrer and 10 percent for Vallone.
If no mayoral candidate gets more than 40 percent of the vote in the Sept. 11 primary, a runoff will be held Sept. 25 between the two highest scoring candidates.
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or at (718) 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community News Group
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