While her late-blooming bid for the Republican nomination against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) made Page 1 of the New York Times today, K.T. McFarland may have entered the sure-to-be-watched-nationwide race too late to be a factor, according to the head of New York State’s Conservative Party.
Asked if he felt McFarland, a Republican from the East Side of Manhattan and onetime Pentagon spokeswoman in the Reagan Administration, was jumping into the race too late to be a serious contender, New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told me: “Yeah, I do. If she enters the Republican [nomination fight], she’ll be running into [former Yonkers Mayor] John Spencer and he’s got a pretty good base. My guess is that the lion’s share of the Republican grass-roots activists will be for him.” Long also pointed out that the 54-year-old McFarland, a protégé of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, would have a difficult time getting the Conservative Party nomination because “she tends to be pretty liberal on the social issues, such as abortion.” Spencer is a strong conservative on both social and economic issues.
No Republican has won statewide office in the Empire State since 1974 without running on the Conservative Party state ballot line (now Row D, behind the Democrats, Republicans, and Independence Party lines) as well. Along with Connecticut, New York is one of two states that permits candidates from one party to have the cross-endorsement of another party and the votes to be counted from more than one line.
The entry of Kathleen Troia McFarland is the latest development in GOP effort to try to stop a big re-election for Clinton, considered the Democrats’ front-runner for president in ’08. Westchester County District Attorney and liberal GOPer Jeanine Pirro, the favorite of Republican powers in Albany, abruptly abandoned her candidacy to run for attorney general; Manhattan lawyer Edward Cox, son-in-law of Richard Nixon and a favorite of conservatives, ended his campaign, citing Republican Gov. George Pataki’s support for Pirro as a roadblock to fund-raising. (Prior to his exit, Cox was “the strong favorite for the Conservative Party line,” according to Mike Long).
The exodus of both Cox and Pirro has focused fresh attention on Spencer, who has campaigned all along for both the Conservative and GOP ballot lines and emphasized conservative issues. McFarland, who had earlier been running for Congress from the Upper East Side of Manhattan (the so-called “silk stocking district”) against Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney has focused fresh attention on Spencer, who has campaigned all along for both the Conservative and GOP ballot lines and emphasized conservative issues. McFarland, who had earlier been running for Congress from the Upper East Side of Manhattan (the so-called “silk stocking district”) against Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney and had raised $600,000 for that race, is getting political advice from veteran campaign gun-for-hire Ed Rollins, who managed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election and briefly ran Ross Perot’s independent bid for president in 1992. She had come to see Long, the Conservative leader recalled, on February 10 and “indicated she might run for the Senate but wasn’t sure” Three days later, he added, a meeting of the Conservative Party’s state executive committee gave its blessings to Spencer.
The full Conservative Party will endorse a Senate candidate in May.