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Three Hispanic Politicians Back D'Amato

by Maureen Fan and Kimberly Schaye

October 12, 1998
©Copyright 1998 Daily News, L.P.

Sen. Alfonse D'Amato picked up endorsements from three Hispanic politicians yesterday as he slammed Rep. Charles Schumer for missing key votes on issues important to the Latino community.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn congressman took to D'Amato's Long Island home turf to woo voters and defend his attendance record.

Speaking to reporters before marching up Fifth Ave. in the Hispanic Day Parade, D'Amato announced endorsements from former Rep. Herman Badillo, a Democrat-turned-Republican, and state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez of the Bronx and Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn, both Democrats. "When people send us to Congress, they expect us to work full- time; they don't expect us to put politics first. And indeed when it comes to the people of Puerto Rico, Chuck Schumer has not been there," the Republican lawmaker said.

D'Amato later unveiled a new Spanish-language radio ad with the same theme charging Schumer missed key votes on Puerto Rico's status as a commonwealth and bi-lingual education.

Stumping in Nassau County, Schumer said he never missed a session where his vote would be decisive and said he had an obligation to travel around the state letting voters know where he stands.

"I'll match my record of effective, conscientious representation with his any day," the Democrat said at a campaign stop at Adelphi University in Garden City. "Al D'Amato has an abysmal record of effectiveness."

Later, at a Wantagh street festival, Schumer was asked by supporter Mary Ellen Orchard what she should tell friends who believe D'Amato has a point about the attendance issue.

"Here's what you say: I have a 92% attendance record," Schumer answered. "The way Al D'Amato votes, you'd want him to miss some votes."

Joe Chiaffitella, a baseball memorabilia vendor wearing a Yankees cap, wanted to know Schumer's stance on another pressing issue.

"Are you a Yankees fan or a Mets fan?" he asked.

"Well, I like both," Schumer answered.

"He's a politician," Chiaffitella said to fellow vendor Bill Pezzulo, a Mets fan.

At the Long Beach boardwalk, Schumer was heckled by Bob Murphy, a steel erector and Republican who yelled from a clam bar, "Hey, Chuck, you should be in Washington working on the budget, man. How many votes did you miss, one hundred?"

"You compare my record to D'Amato's, it's much better," Schumer answered.

After the two had a spirited debate about gun control which Schumer supports and Murphy opposes Schumer extended his hand.

"So we disagree," Schumer said.

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