Ben Smith has a rose-colored look at a possible Senate run in New York by Mort Zuckerman, the 72-year-old media mogul and pundit who seems interested in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) seat and is — like Harold Ford did, until last night — getting nothing but kudos from the state’s moneyed elite.
Zuckerman, who owns the New York Daily News and U.S.News & World Report, has been a practicing pundit for years and “has always wanted to be in the political mix,” said Howard Rubenstein, the New York PR man and a Zuckerman friend. More important, the weaknesses of his likely opponent, Gillibrand, are clear to everyone, and a statewide office has rarely seemed so ripe for the plucking.
“He’d be her ‘worst possible opponent’ among possible candidates, said Democratic political consultant Dan Gerstein.
Obviously, that’s assuming Zuckerman will dip into his fortune and spend Bloomberg-level money on an ad campaign. But right now, Zuckerman is trailing Gillibrand by 20 points — former governor George Pataki, who seems disinterested in a run, leads her by six points. And that represented an uptick in the polls for her. Gillibrand has more than $7 million in the bank, which she no longer has to spend in a pointless primary. And the Democratic ticket will almost certainly be led in November by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, replacing the bumbling and scandalized Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.). It’s not a total gimme for the Democrats, but the hopes of Republicans turning this into their majority-making victory really seem based on magical thinking.