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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Celebrity endorsements sparse in primaries

Whatever their value, endorsements by political celebrities have proved sparse in the season's most widely watched primaries.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held to their word and stayed out of the New York City race to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- in which both major parties' prospective candidates face voters Tuesday.

The Clintons, regarded as Democratic superstars, might have a 2016 "Ready for Hillary" presidential run in mind -- or, as they've diplomatically suggested, they just have too many friends among the city hopefuls to oppose any of them.

Not that even star-power endorsements necessarily affect outcomes. The ex-president backed loser Wendy Greuel in the Los Angeles mayoral race last spring.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has had clearer incentive to stay neutral. For a leader of the state's Democratic Party to take sides in a primary poses risks. He'll need to govern, for some period, alongside the next mayor, and faces his own re-election race next year.

Bloomberg, with his surprise final-weekend attack on Democratic mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio as running on race, prompted Cuomo to cautiously issue nice words about de Blasio and his family -- and call the mayor's remarks "clearly out of line." Which still isn't an endorsement.

In Nassau, Cuomo has had cordial relations with GOP County Executive Edward Mangano, who's seeking re-election this year. The governor stayed out of newcomer Adam Haber's Democratic duel with comeback-minded former executive Thomas Suozzi.

Team Cuomo Tuesday will be warily eyeing former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's bid for city comptroller. He's contesting Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for the nomination, which is widely expected to be tantamount to election. Don't bet on Cuomo to root for Spitzer.

Both Democratic U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, took a pass in the mayoral race. And the Rev. Al Sharpton sidestepped a mayoral endorsement, too, drawing his own round of chatter.

Among Republicans, past notables did weigh in. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani backed his ex-deputy Joe Lhota and ex-Gov. George Pataki supported billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.

Bloomberg and aides have indicated he prefers Lhota and Democratic Council Speaker Christine Quinn in their primaries. But he never stepped up to announce an endorsement.


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