Race for Attorney General Heats Up

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The New York Sun

The four-way Democratic contest for attorney general shrank yesterday when the one African-American candidate, Charlie King, dropped out and endorsed the front-runner, Andrew Cuomo.

The announcement came as the Village Voice published a 4,100-word story concerning Mr. Cuomo’s close relationship with a developer, Andrew Farkas, whom the federal government sued while he was secretary of housing and urban development under President Clinton.

The article said the suit, which Mr. Cuomo authorized, accused the developer’s company of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to the owners of federally subsidized projects. Mr. Cuomo has received $800,000 in campaign contributions from the developer’s firm and in 2004 and 2005 received $1.2 million in salary from the firm, the article said.


Mr. Cuomo said yesterday that the issue was first written about four years ago and dismissed the idea that he did anything wrong.

Meanwhile, Mr. King’s departure from the campaign gives the front-runner more Democratic Party backing and more support from African-American leaders.The Reverend Al Sharpton is expected to endorse Mr. Cuomo this week.

Mr. King was garnering less than 5% of the vote in recent public opinion polls. But his departure does change the dynamic of the race and positions even more of the Democratic establishment against Mark Green, whom some are pressuring to bow out. A lawyer and former aide to Mr. Clinton, Sean Patrick Maloney, is also in the race.


“If you cannot win this, you shouldn’t damage the front-runner,” Rep. Charles Rangel told reporters at City Hall. “The party has been extremely good to Mr. Green, and he should not think about poisoning the well that he has drank from for so long.”

The Green campaign issued a statement from its lead consultant, Hank Sheinkopf, saying that given Mr. King’s low poll numbers, Mr. Cuomo’s relationship with Mr. Farkas is a more significant development than the candidate’s withdrawal from the race.

“Those are serious issues and questions that have been raised today, and the only press conference Andrew Cuomo should hold today is to fully answer those questions,” Mr. Sheinkopf said.


In recent public opinion polls, Mr. Green was favored by 35% of primary voters, compared with Mr. Cuomo’s 48%.

Mr. King’s relationship with Mr. Cuomo has been a complicated one. While he worked under Mr. Cuomo at HUD, at times he has been critical of him on the campaign trail, although some have speculated whether the two have cooperated for the sake of Mr. Cuomo’s campaign.

Mr. King called the decision to drop out and endorse his rival “a bittersweet moment,” but said the party needed to unite behind Mr. Cuomo.

“Why Andrew? Why now?” he said. “He is going to be our nominee a week from today. He’s incredibly qualified, he has the passion to make a difference.”

Mr. King, whose name will be on the ballot on Tuesday, said he would still vote for himself, because he didn’t think the primary contest would be close.

He and Mr. Cuomo stopped short of calling for Mr. Green to drop out. But both said they expected the general election against the Republican candidate, Jeannine Pirro, to be competitive.

Mr. King said he decided to withdraw from the race after talking to the Reverend Jesse Jackson and to Mr. Rangel over the weekend.

According to Mr. King, Rev. Jackson said: “Charlie, if you feel that you cannot win this race, then it is time to support the one person who is qualified who will win this race, and you should think about that.” Mr. King said he had not talked to Mr. Cuomo about a possible job in the attorney general’s office if the latter is elected.

The New York Sun

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