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In The News: Roundup

(may '00) McCain's Revenge
The State Senate has just approved a plan to revise the State's Republican primary system. The proposed reforms would replace the arcane petition process that requires each candidate to collect signatures in each district they wish to appear on the ballot.

The strictness of the Republican system came to the fore in the months prior to the presidential primary when George W. Bush supporters and members of the Republican machine tried to knock Mr. McCain off the ballot. Claiming that his petitions were rife with ineligible signatures, they attempted to remove him from about half the state's districts. Their maneuvering prompted outcry from the McCain camp, newspapers and good government groups.

McCain's strategy, to paint himself as an insurgent, the victim of party bosses, proved successful. Not only did he wangle his way onto the ballot, he managed to embarrass a number of high level republicans with a close race. McCain won 44% of the vote to W.'s squeaky 50%.

After the primary, there was little indication that reform was in the works; after all, it is another four years until a presidential primary rolls around. But Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has pushed for the changes now. The bill proposes to put well-known candidates on the ballot automatically, and dispense with the petition process altogether. It would also change the way delegates and candidates are listed on the ballot. Under current law, the delegates are listed first, with the candidate they represent in small letters underneath. This was criticized from all sides as a) being confusing and b) favoring George W., whose appeared, for alphabetic reasons, at the top of the ballot. This too would be changed; only the names of the candidates would appear.

Hot in New Jersey
The Senatorial race between former Governor Florio and Jon Corzine is heating up. Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, has gone on the offensive, attacking Florio for his much criticized mid-recession tax-hikes during his tenure as Governor. The Florio camp has countered with criticisms of Corzine's expensive campaigning style; his television commercials total about $1 million a week.

While each side is doing his best to spin the damage away, the June 6th primary approaches...

Jessica Sounds Off:

The McCain insurgency is long gone; media hounds and the pubic have nothing left but (ugh) Gore and Bush. But, the deftly constructed brouhaha that John McCain created in New York will have a profound and lasting impact on New York State politics. He should be lauded for his ability to get results -- no mean feat in this state, and for the effect that his candidacy has had -- elevating the level of political discourse.

Susan Reefer is a Republican pollster and media strategist. She is based in New York City.

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