NYers face own big choice

by Tara Kyle | 11/7/00 6:00am

As the nation goes to the polls today, many Dartmouth students from New York will have already mailed in their decisions on a race that ranks second only to the presidential campaign in mass media coverage -- First Lady Hillary Clinton versus Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio for the New York Senate.

Although the New Yorkers who spoke to The Dartmouth largely disapproved of the intense publicity Clinton's candidacy has received, few were surprised by it.

"It's nothing more or less than I expected. It's excessive even for New York, but not by that much," Alex Wilson '01 said.

Alison Reddington '04 noted, "It's inevitable, and I think it's too bad. There's so much hoopla and not enough focus on the issues."

About half the students surveyed by The Dartmouth said they had been following the race, although many said that they had struggled to keep informed since coming to Dartmouth in September.

Regardless of the amount of attention they had given to the election, most of the students maintained strong opinions on the candidates.

"She's a carpet-bagger, and has no right to be a New York senator," Reddington said of Clinton.

"I don't think she has the experience to be a senator, and I'm opposed to most of her policies. I'd have a lot fewer qualms about her running for [a House seat], but to jump from First Lady with little outside experience into a Senate seat for one of the largest states in the country is too much," Wilson said.

While many shared Reddington and Wilson's doubts concerning Clinton's claim to a place in New York politics, most students felt that if elected she would ultimately be successful in the office.

"I was apprehensive at first, but she has really shown a good understanding of the issues," Janos Marton '04 said.

Samuel Rice '04 expressed similar feelings. "She's definitely using it as a stepping ground to higher office, but I do think she'd do a good job as a senator."

Most of the students considered Clinton's opponent Lazio to be something of an afterthought.

"I don't feel like people are really following Rick Lazio as a candidate so much as voting for or against Hillary. I don't think people consider Lazio's opinions as important," Clifford Campbell '04 said.

Several students also expressed dismay that a Republican with greater prominence in New York politics was not seeking the office. "I think Lazio's a lightweight," Wilson said.

Lazio announced his candidacy a day after New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pulled out of the race last May. Giuliani exited after learning he had developed prostrate cancer a month earlier.

Sentiments regarding Giuliani's withdrawal were largely mixed.

Reddington told The Dartmouth, "I definitely don't think he should have continued. As much good as he did, I don't approve of the way he did it. I really don't think he has much compassion for humanity."

"He's too dogmatic for me, and for most of New York I think," Jaime Grossman '04 said, referencing the 1999 incident in which Giuliani attempted to cut off funding to the Brooklyn Museum because of an exhibit displaying a portrait of the Virgin Mary created partially out of elephant dung.

Marton put it simply, "I definitely wouldn't want him in the Senate."

However, several Dartmouth students expressed regret that Giuliani had not remained in contention. Wilson stated that he would have voted for the mayor had he remained in the race.

"I live in New York City, and I believe he's done a good job for the city and would do the same for the state," Marshall Lee '03 said.

Others felt that policy matters aside, Giuliani's participation would have sparked greater drama and public interest in the race. "It would have been much more exciting and caused a higher voter turnout," Rice said.

None of the students from New York that spoke with The Dartmouth intended to vote in Hanover.

"I feel like my vote would have a lot less meaning here since I'm not from New Hampshire," Grossman said.

While one student missed the registration deadline and another did not have citizenship, the remainder had mailed in absentee ballots. Of these, four voted for Clinton, one for Lazio, and one declined to comment.