Cuomo Helped over the Top by Jewish Voters

A substantial margin of votes for Lt. Gov. Mario Cuomo in heavily Jewish populated districts of New York City helped the liberal Democrat become the first Italian American to be elected Governor of New York State yesterday.

Cuomo’s lopsided margin of victory in the city enabled him to overcome the lead of his Republican opponent, conservative businessman Lew Lehrman, who is Jewish, in many upstate and suburban counties. Cuomo’s statewide plurality was about 12,000 votes.

There were no Jewish issues in the gubernatorial contest. The only matter remotely of Jewish interest was the fact that Lehrman’s wife is an Episcopalian, a matter he discussed freely at an appearance before the New York Board of Rabbis last month. He is a member of two synagogues.

The campaign was fought mainly over the economy, the death penalty and crime. Cuomo, who defeated Mayor Edward Koch in the September Democratic primaries for Governor, is an established liberal in the New Deal and Great Society traditions. Lehrman, a millionaire who spent over $7 million of his own on a media blitz campaign, is a proponent of supply side economics and supporter of President Reagan’s economic program.

THE ISSUE WAS IDEOLOGY

Jews apparently voted on the basis of the candidates’ ideological differences rather than their ethnic background. Cuomo’s liberal credentials, not Lehrmon’s Jewish origin, is believed to have accounted for the strong support the Republican candidate had from some Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox Jews.

In Manhattan’s upper West Side where there is a large Jewish population, Cuomo polled over 9,500 votes to about 1,400 for Lehrman. In the heavily Jewish Midwood section of Brooklyn, the vote was about 5,500-2,500 in favor of Cuomo. Similarly, in Midwood-Manhattan Beach, another Jewish enclave, Cuomo polled over 13,900 votes to about 9,700 for Lehrman.

In Forest Hills-Kew Gardens, Queens, which contains old established Jewish neighborhoods, comoled by a morgin of 14,200 to 9,500. In the Co-Op City, Pelham Bay, Morris Park districts of the Bronx, home of many Jewish retirees, Cuomo topped Lehrman by 21,600 to 11,500.

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