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1998 United States Senate election in New York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1998 United States Senate election in New York
Flag of New York (1909–2020).svg

← 1992 November 3, 1998 2004 →
Charles Schumer official portrait.jpg
Alfonse D'Amato.jpg
Nominee Chuck Schumer Al D'Amato
Party Democratic Republican
Alliance Independence
Right to Life
Popular vote 2,551,065 2,058,988
Percentage 54.6% 44.1%

1998 United States Senate election in New York results map by county.svg
County results

Schumer:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

D'Amato:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. senator before election

Al D'Amato

Elected U.S. Senator

Chuck Schumer

The 1998 United States Senate election in New York was held November 3, 1998, along with elections to the United States Senate in other states, as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Al D'Amato was running for reelection to a fourth term, but was defeated by Democrat Chuck Schumer, in what was considered by many to be the "high[est] profile and nastiest" contest of the year.[1] This was the first election since 1950 in which a Democrat was elected to the Class 3 United States Senate seat from New York, and the first time since Robert F. Wagner's re-election in 1944 that New York had sent two Democrats to the United States Senate.

Democratic primary



Ferraro was well known for having been the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, and had also run, but lost, in the Democratic primary in the 1992 U.S. Senate election in New York. Green had been the Democratic nominee in the 1986 election, but lost in the general election to D'Amato.

At the start of 1998, Ferraro had done no fund-raising, out of fear of conflict of interest with her job, hosting the CNN program Crossfire, but was nonetheless perceived as the front-runner by virtue of her name recognition;[2] indeed, December and January polls had her 25 percentage points ahead of Green in the race, and even further ahead of Schumer.[3][4] Unlike her previous campaigns, Ferraro's family finances never became an issue in 1998.[3] However, she lost ground during the summer, with Schumer catching her in the polls by early August, and then soon passing her.[5] Schumer, a tireless fund-raiser, outspent her by a five-to-one margin, and Ferraro failed to establish a political image current with the times.[3][6] In the September 15, 1998, primary, she was beaten soundly by Schumer, with a 51 percent to 26 percent margin.[3] Unlike the bitter 1992 Democratic senatorial primary, this contest was not divisive, and Ferraro and third-place finisher Green endorsed Schumer at a unity breakfast the following day.[7]


Source Date Mark Green Geraldine Ferraro Charles Schumer
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 25% 48% 15%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 25% 48% 12%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 19% 46% 18%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 20% 50% 15%
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 23% 46% 19%
Quinnipiac July 16, 1998 24% 39% 28%


Primary results by county  Map legend .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Schumer—60–70%   Schumer—50–60%   Schumer—40–50%   Ferraro—40–50%   Ferraro—50–60%   Ferraro—60–70%   Ferraro—70–80%
Primary results by county
Map legend
  •   Schumer—60–70%
  •   Schumer—50–60%
  •   Schumer—40–50%
  •   Ferraro—40–50%
  •   Ferraro—50–60%
  •   Ferraro—60–70%
  •   Ferraro—70–80%

The primaries were held on September 15, 1998.

Democratic primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chuck Schumer 388,701 50.84%
Democratic Geraldine Ferraro 201,625 26.37%
Democratic Mark J. Green 145,819 19.07%
Democratic Eric Ruano-Melendez 28,493 3.73%
Source:, NY US Senate - D Primary

Republican primary


Source Date Alfonse D'Amato Betsy McCaughey Ross
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 55% 26%

Other primaries


Independence Party primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independence Chuck Schumer 2,562 58.04%
Independence Mark Green 1,852 41.96%
Source:, NY US Senate - IDP Primary

Right to life

Right to Life Party primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Right to Life Al D'Amato (incumbent) 3,798 63.07%
Right to Life Thomas Drolesky 2,224 36.93%
Source:, NY US Senate - RTL Primary

General election




  • Rose Ana Berbeo (Socialist Workers Party)
  • Corinne Kurtz (Marijuana Reform Party)
  • Joel Kovel (Green Party)
  • William McMillen (Libertarian Party)


During the campaign, D'Amato attempted to brand Schumer as a die-hard liberal, while Schumer accused D'Amato of being a liar. When D'Amato's first strategy failed, D'Amato attacked his opponent's attendance record as a member of Congress, which Schumer refuted.[8][9]

Late in the campaign, D'Amato called Schumer a "putzhead" in a private meeting with Jewish supporters ("putz" is Yiddish for penis, and can be slang for "fool").[10] He later apologized for the comment.[1]

In the last days of the campaign, D'Amato campaigned with popular Governor George Pataki, who was also running for reelection, and was also supported by New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Mayor Ed Koch (a Democrat).[10]

Vice President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton personally campaigned for Schumer, as D'Amato was a prominent critic of President Bill Clinton[8] who led the investigation into Whitewater.[11] Though the Republican party was well organized, the Democratic party benefited from robocalls from President Clinton and mobilization from two big unions: United Federation of Teachers; and 1199.[8]

Though D'Amato was effective in obtaining federal government funds for New York State projects during his Senate career, he failed to capitalize on this in the election.[8] Also, Schumer was a tenacious fundraiser, and was aggressive in his attacks.[11] The candidates spent $30 million during the race.[8]


Source Date Al
D'Amato (R)
Schumer (D)
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 40% 43%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 45% 40%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 45% 41%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 45% 41%
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 49% 37%
Quinnipiac September 24, 1998 43% 47%
Quinnipiac October 14, 1998 45% 46%
Quinnipiac October 27, 1998 44% 48%
Quinnipiac November 2, 1998 42% 50%
Hypothetical polling
with Ferraro
Source Date Al
D'Amato (R)
Ferraro (D)
Quinnipiac July 23, 1997 32% 55%
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 36% 54%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 38% 52%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 38% 50%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 37% 53%
with Ferraro and Schumer
Source Date Al
D'Amato (R)
Ferraro (D)
Schumer (L)
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 41% 38% 12%
with Green
Source Date Al
D'Amato (R)
Green (D)
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 39% 47%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 41% 46%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 43% 43%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 44% 44%
with Green and Schumer
Source Date Al
D'Amato (R)
Green (D)
Schumer (L)
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 44% 28% 14%


The race was not close, with Schumer defeating the incumbent D'Amato by just over 10%.[12] D'Amato did win a majority of New York's counties, but his wins were in less populated areas. Schumer's win is attributed to strong performance in New York City. Schumer also performed well in heavily populated upstate cities, like Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany. Schumer was sworn in on January 3, 1999.

1998 United States Senate election, New York
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chuck Schumer 2,386,314
Independence Chuck Schumer 109,027
Liberal Chuck Schumer 55,724
Total Chuck Schumer 2,551,065 54.62%
Republican Al D'Amato 1,680,203
Conservative Al D'Amato 274,220
Right to Life Al D'Amato 104,565
Total Al D'Amato (incumbent) 2,058,988 44.08%
Marijuana Reform Corinne Kurtz 34,281 0.73%
Green Joel Kovel 14,735 0.32%
Libertarian William McMillen 8,223 0.18%
Socialist Workers Rose Ana Berbeo 3,513 0.08%
Total votes 4,670,805 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican
Per New York State law, Schumer and D'Amato totals include minor party line votes: Independence Party and Liberal Party for Schumer, Right to Life Party for D'Amato.

See also


  1. ^ a b Rothenburg, Stuart (November 3, 1998). "Schumer topples D'Amato in New York Senate race". CNN.
  2. ^ Nagourney, Adam (January 4, 1998). "Friends Say Ferraro Will Seek D'Amato's Seat". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c d Waldman, Amy (September 17, 1998). "The Farewell: For Ferraro, Early Promise, Lopsided Loss". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Schumer, Chuck (2007). Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time. Rodale Books. ISBN 978-1-59486-572-5. p. 17.
  5. ^ Schumer, Positively American, p. 31.
  6. ^ Schumer, Positively American, pp. 18, 30.
  7. ^ Schumer, Positively American, pp. 33, 39.
  8. ^ a b c d e Online NewsHour: 98 Election - The New York Wrap-up - November 4, 1998
  9. ^ Online NewsHour: New York Senate Race - October 28, 1998
  10. ^ a b Randall, Gene (October 30, 1998). "New York Senate race an old-fashioned street fight". CNN.
  11. ^ a b Nagourney, Adam (November 4, 1998). "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: NEW YORK STATE - THE SENATE; Schumer Uses D'Amato's Tactics To Win Senate Election Handily". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "1998 General Election Results" (PDF).
This page was last edited on 16 November 2022, at 11:18
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