Memo To: Pollwatchers, browsers, fans
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Rooting for D’Amato
New York Republican Senator Al D’Amato ten days ago was falling further behind in his re-election race against Democratic challenger Rep. Charles Schumer. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott called D’Amato and recommended that he ask Jack Kemp to come into western New York to campaign for him. In his heyday as congressman from Buffalo, Kemp routinely gathered in 90% of the vote. D’Amato did call and Jack Kemp went to New York on Friday, to rally upstate voters on D’Amato’s behalf. If you think you are not taxed enough, vote for Schumer. Amazingly, D’Amato had run his entire campaign to that point without ever discussing the tax issue, relying entirely on negative attacks on Schumer’s poor attendance on Senate votes.
I’m sure Schumer would be an okay senator, but I’ve always admired D’Amato’s style. When Kemp was asked by a reporter what he thought of the negative campaign, he said, D’Amato is a streetfighter and this is a street fight. D’Amato is called “Senator Pothole” derisively, but if a Senator is supposed to represent the interests of his constituents, nobody does it better than D’Amato. He does not pretend to be a philosopher, as most senior members of the Senate seem to do. This is of some significance when it comes to the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee, a post D’Amato now holds. If Schumer beats D’Amato, the chairmanship will go to Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. Nine times of ten, I think I’d almost prefer Gramm to D’Amato as chairman of Senate Banking in the 106th Congress, because Gramm is more attuned ideologically on issues I regard as critical. In this coming session, I think the nation will have to confront the issue of the gold standard on monetary policy -- if only to squeeze by the Y2K computer problem. Gramm is not going to have an open mind on this issue, afraid, because he puts Milton Friedman and his floating exchange rates on a pedestal. In other words, on the global chessboard taking us into the next century, I think we almost certainly must have a pragmatist like D’Amato as chairman of Senate Banking.
In the last New Jersey Senate race, I formally endorsed Bob Torricelli, a liberal Democrat. My reasoning was that he was the first genuine supply-sider I’d seen breaking ranks among ideological Democrats. I was thrilled that he won and think he has been a positive influence since. Of all the races I’m watching tomorrow, this one means the most to me. If D’Amato wins you will know why I will be a happy man no matter whatever else happens.