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McCall Wins Schumer's Support In Bid For Governor

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Monday was supposed to be all about Democratic Party unity. But Senator Charles Schumer threw a wrench into that plan when he endorsed Carl McCall over rival Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary race for governor.

“We don't just need someone with a sharp mind; we need someone with a sharp mind and the wisdom to know what to do with it,” said Schumer at the endorsement on the steps of City Hall Monday afternoon. “And in the Democratic race for governor, the man is clearly Carl McCall.”

Party leaders tried convincing Schumer to hold off on the endorsement. They were worried it would ruin Monday night's fundraiser for the state Democratic Party, billed as a unity dinner, where McCall and Cuomo were scheduled to make a rare joint appearance.

In the end, both candidates did show up and stood together on stage. Cuomo said he is not worried about Schumer's support for his rival.

“Chuck said that he’s going to support the winner of the Democratic primary,” Cuomo said. “That means we’re going to be unified at the end, and that’s what it’s all about.”

McCall has vast support within the Democratic Party establishment, while Cuomo — even though he is the son of a former governor and married to a Kennedy — is running as an outsider. Most of New York's elected Democrats have endorsed McCall, with one noteworthy exception: Senator Hillary Clinton says she's not planning to endorse anyone.

Both McCall and Cuomo said they are committed to keeping the Democratic Party unified after the primary in September.

“A lot of Democrats are here to show that we’re united, we’re going forward and we’re going to win the election,” McCall said at the dinner, at Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

The joint McCall-Cuomo appearance was a coup for Herman “Denny” Farrell, the chairman of the state Democratic Party. He was joined at Monday night's fundraiser by the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, as well as other elected Democrats from across the country.

“No matter how much we may fight internally,” said Farrell, “it’s really about winning the election in November, not what happens in the primary. And for one moment we’re going to stop and say that, and then we’ll go back to fighting.”

“It’s very important,” said McAuliffe, “that Carl or Andrew be inaugurated as the next governor. It’s very important for our long-term prospects of our party.”

The Democrats are hoping they can stay unified until November. With Republican incumbent George Pataki leading each of his rivals by 2-1 margins in the polls, the Democratic Party can't afford any infighting at all.

- Davidson Goldin
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