Is Larchmont’s mayor, Liz Feld, considering a run for the New York Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand? That’s what Sal Gentile of The Capital reported on Tuesday, November 24.
Yesterday, Ms. Feld was not answering questions. But on Wednesday morning, she told the Gazette she would be commenting later, “while I’m brining the Thanksgiving turkey.” By noon, she had released the following:
“I am actively considering a run for the United States Senate and expect to make a final decision sooner rather than later. The ever-growing debt coming out of Washington is alarming. It will have serious implications for New York and for the next generation of Americans. Priority number one in this country has to be debt reduction and long-term tax relief. That will be the major focus of my campaign should I formally enter this race.”
There were no further details, for now.
More Through Anonymous Sources
According to The Capital story, an anonymous source “with knowledge of Feld’s plans” said the mayor is in “the exploratory phase, talking to funders and putting out initial conversations to party leaders around New York and Washington.” The source opined that there was “a feel that’s out there” that Ms. Feld, 48, a pro-choice mom of three, would be “a great match-up against Gillebrand,” 43, another “working mom.”
Should Ms. Feld decide on a Senate run, she may have some serious opposition from her own party. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and former New York Governor George Pataki are two possibilities. However, should they decline to run, the field could be open for a fresh face, or so The Capital’s sources suggest.
A Fresh Face
Ms. Feld would definitely be a new face for most New York voters. Though she once worked in communications for the George H. W. Bush White House, her only political race outside of the tiny Village of Larchmont was a 2008 failed attempt against New York State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.
Ms. Feld was trounced by around 2-1. She even lost the Village of Larchmont, where Ms. Oppenheimer got 57% to the mayor’s 42%.
However, that was in a presidential election year in which Democratic candidates breezed to victory with Barack Obama’s wind beneath their wings.
Since then, Ms. Feld has gone back to serving as Larchmont’s mayor, where she is the only Republican on the five-person board. She has also continued to issue statements and support Republican candidates as a member of New Yorker’s for Growth, a political action committee focused on lowering taxes.
In Larchmont, Ms. Feld enjoys cordial or better relationships with her Democratic trustees, having run in 2004 and 2006 on a coalition slate with Democrats Marlene Kolbert, the deputy mayor, and Jim Millstein, who left Larchmont recently to serve with the Obama Treasury Department.
However, Ms. Feld has burned a few bridges with many local Republicans (by challenging the incumbent, Ken Bialo, in 2004) and local Democrats (especially after a controversial postcard in her NY Senate run).
As a pro-choice, “moderate” Republican, she might be able to woo a chunk of Democrats and independents, but she might have major problem with conservatives – even, or especially, those from her own party. National GOP conservative groups having been stepping into local races in support of their kind of candidates – even when that risks losing to the Democrats. (That’s how Bill Owens recently became the first Democrat in generations to represent New York’s 23rd Congressional district.)
Decision Point: January or Sooner?
So, given all these difficulties, is Ms. Feld serious about the U.S. Senate? Or is her announcement a way to garner attention for a less difficult challenge – like another run for the NY Senate?
The next few months are likely to sort things out. In March, there is a mayoral election in the Village of Larchmont. Ms. Feld hasn’t yet said whether she will run again. A decision is due, at the latest, in January.