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Dem chair Jacobs eyes eliminating cross-endorsements

Soon-to-be state Democratic Committee chairman Jay Jacobs says he believes "we have to take a strong look" at eliminating New York's unusual practice of candidate cross-endorsements.

Jacobs, the Nassau party leader, was quick to add that he's not urging immediate action, and that the issue requires "study." But he backed the ban in 2007, during a flap with county Independence Party chairman Bobby Kumar, and didn't relent when contacted Friday.

"It doesn't give voters choice; it takes choice away," Jacobs says of cross-endorsement. "Choice would be having different candidates on each of the lines. What we're doing here, we have a transactional process where the tail wags the dog and elected officials jump through hoops . . . and compromise values . . . to get their names on another line."

Defenders contend the system defines candidates. Independence Party activists have warned for some time that a Democratic governor with a majority in both legislative houses could crush minor-party influence.

But there's one big obstacle to Democrats barring cross-endorsements: The union-backed Working Families Party with which it interacts.

Minor-party intrigue can be thick. Last week New York City campaign-finance regulators cast a critical light on WFP's unusual overlap with a for-profit consulting company. And State Sen. Pedro Espada employs, as $140,000-a-year counsel, Independence player Steve Pigeon - an ally of Espada in helping carry out June's Republican-led Senate coup.

Jacobs is due to become state chairman in two weeks at a meeting in Buffalo.

COX'S CLINCH: Ed Cox's successful drive for chairmanship of the state Republican Party left rival Henry Wojtaszek of Niagara, favorite of ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, blaming his loss on incumbent Joseph Mondello taking so long to step aside. While Giuliani is due to say after Election Day if he'll run next year for governor, some fans last week hinted he's inclined to do it. A scenario: He prepares to face Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Democratic nominee, expecting Cuomo to beat Gov. David A. Paterson in a bloody primary. Also in the GOP, ex-Rep. Rick Lazio shows increased commitment to running for governor.

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