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New York Post

Spitzer-Blitzed Pol Dora Irizarry Eyed As Fed Judge


January 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003 New York Post Holdings Inc. All rights reserved. 

In a reward for one of Gov. Pataki's political allies, President Bush is considering a federal judgeship for the Latina who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general on Pataki's ticket last fall, The Post has learned.

Pataki tapped little-known Dora Irizarry to oppose popular Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, but she was seen from the start as a sacrificial lamb meant to help Pataki's re-election by adding a Hispanic to the ticket.

Irizarry, who lost by a whopping 66 to 30 percent, resigned a state judicial post to which Pataki had named her to take on Spitzer last year. Currently with a law firm, she could not be reached for comment last night.

A Democratic source claimed the potential choice of Irizarry has irked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who's on the Senate Judiciary Committee which vets judge nominees, but his office adamantly denied it.

"The White House has asked us to look at her and we are doing so," said Schumer spokesman Phil Singer.

Asked whether Schumer is ticked off, Singer replied: "There is not one element of truth to that. He is studying her record and has an open mind."

The date of Irizarry's possible nomination or the specific judgeship could not be learned last night.

"She's a lovely person and a great American success story," said Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon.

"Here's someone who grew up in the South Bronx and could have done anything as lawyer and instead went back to prosecute drug dealers in the neighborhood where she grew up."

The Puerto Rico-born Irizarry graduated from the Bronx HS of Science and then, like Pataki, from Yale University and Columbia Law School. She then became a prosecutor in the Manhattan and Bronx U.S. attorneys offices.

A Democrat-turned-Republican, she was picked as a New York City Criminal Court justice by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1995. Pataki named her to the state Court of Claims in 1997.

After losing to Spitzer last fall, Irizarry - a single mom - joined the 18-lawyer firm of Hoguet, Newman & Regal, which has been hired to represent Pataki as outside counsel in several cases.

When the Democrats controlled the Senate, Schumer demanded - and got - deferential treatment from the White House in picking judges and U.S. attorneys and he could block nominees on the Judiciary Committee. But he has less clout now that Republicans are in control.

Schumer has already opposed Bush on some judgeship nominees from outside New York, vowing to do "everything I can" to block them including a filibuster. His office, however, insisted he has a "good working relationship" with the White House on New York judges.

Last year, Schumer waited months before agreeing to back another Pataki ally, Roslynn Mauskopf, as Bush's choice for Brooklyn U.S. attorney.

Schumer also nixed Pataki's first pick for Manhattan U.S. attorney and was instrumental in the eventual approval of James Comey for the key position.

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