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Two Jewish Candidates May Run Against Each Other in Mayoral Race

September 12, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

There is a strong possibility that two Jewish mayoral candidates may slug it out in the forthcoming elections for the city’s post of chief executive despite the defeat last Thursday of Abraham Beame, the city’s first Jewish mayor, in a heated Democratic Party primary race. While Beame was rebuffed by Democratic voters in his bid for a second term, Rep. Edward Koch, also Jewish, garnered 20 percent of the primary vote which placed him in the lead for a run-off election Sept. 19.

His opponent in the run-off will be Maria Cuomo, a hand-picked candidate of Gov. Hugh Carey. The run-off is required because none of the seven candidates running in the Democratic primary won the minimum 40 percent of the votes needed to be the party’s candidate in the November general election. Cuomo won 19 percent of the vote, while Beame trailed with 18 percent.

If Koch wins the run-off, he will almost certainly face Sen. Roy Goodman, also Jewish, who easily defeated Barry Farber, a radio talk-show host, in the Republican Party primary race. Of the nine candidates who ran for the city’s highest post, six were Jewish. On the Democratic ticket they included Bella Abzug, who received 17 percent of the votes; and Joel Harnett who got one percent. Farber, who is also Jewish, received 44 percent on the Republican ticket while Goodman scooped up 56 percent of the vote. Despite Farber’s defeat on the Republican ticket, he will be running on the Conservative Party ticket in November.


According to the election returns, the Jewish voters, the most significant segment in city elections, were badly divided between Beame, Koch and Abzug. Beame was favored by the Orthodox and older Jewish voters, while Koch and Abzug received divided attention from younger, more liberal Jews. Koch had been active in the reform Democratic Party circles while Abzug, a former member of the House of Representatives, had a liberal record on many local and national issues.

Cuomo, the only Roman Catholic in the race, ran well among his fellow Roman Catholics who comprise about 40 percent of the city’s electorate, almost equal to that of the Jewish electorate. The Jewish voters did not seem to approach the election on the basis of ethnic solidarity so much as on the issues of safe neighborhoods, a fiscally stable city and renewing the city as a viable center for industry and commerce.

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