07 March, 2006

Who is KT McFarland? Not Even the Reaganites Know for Sure

Last night we told you that Reagan-era Defense Department spokeswoman KT McFarland has decided to battle former Yonkers mayor John Spencer in a GOP primary for the right to face U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton this fall.

The New York City Republican is not a household name yet, and in fact, she seems not even to strike a chord with Defense Department officials from the Reagan years. The New York Sun reports today that many in the department at the time have little or no recollection of McFarland. Of course, that was 20 years-ago and some of those Reagan-era officials are getting up there, if you know what I mean.

One person who has some idea who McFarland is is her opponent. Spencer today, in an exclusive interview with the New York Observer's blog, The Politicker, said the Clintons put McFarland up to running, presumably to cut further into his 30+ point deficit against Sen. Clinton. And, the Politicker followed up nicely with denials from both the Clinton and McFarland camps. Clinton's spokesman Howard Wolfson got in a particularly good shot. "If Mr. Spencer wants to know why Republicans keep trying to find alternatives to him he should look in the mirror, Wolfson said." Spencer has made headlines in this race only when he has made sharp, sometimes outrageous comments. This seems to qualify as the latter.

In the meantime, Clinton's Democratic challenger Jonathan Tasini, the anti-war candidate who is waging a fairly quiet battle, was excited about the nine votes (out of 150 cast) he got at the Democratic Rural Conference in Ithica over the weekend. Here's a post from the campaign's blog, which quotes portions of an Albany Times-Union story about the event.

While no one in either party seems to be gaining much ground against Clinton in the senate race this year, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the senator with a much narrower reach than potential presidential rival Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican. Some 52% of those polled had a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 59% felt positively about McCain. Clinton's "unfavorable" rating was 46% while McCain's was at a rather low 29%. McCain polled almost equally well across the spectrum, with 64% of Republicans, 57% of Democrats and 59% of independents having a positive vibe for him. For Clinton, 80% of Democrats said they had a favorable opinion of her, while only 19% of Republicans had a favorable opinion of the New Yorker. Her favorable rating among independents was 53%, 6 points below McCain.

While we're on the subject of New Yorkers and the presidency, Newsweek's Howard Fineman has an interesting look at whether former mayor Rudy Giuliani will run. In his piece Fineman says a lot of Republican hopefuls want to know the answer to that question, calling Giuliani's decision "pivotal" to the chances of some other candidates.

And for our final note today. There's another poll out on the New York governor's race. This one from Suozzi country, Long Island. A NY1/Newsday poll offers little in the way of surprises. Basically, no one's too excited about any of the GOP candidates at this point and Eliot Spitzer leads big-time against all Republican candidates and against Democratic challenger Tom Suozzi, the county executive in Nassau County. Probably the most surprising numbers are Suozzi's poor tallies on Long Island (21% of registered Democrats) and in his home county (29%).

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