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United States Senate election in New York, 1998


United States Senate election in New York, 1998

United States Senate election in New York, 1998

November 3, 1998

Nominee Chuck Schumer Al D'Amato
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 2,551,065 2,058,988
Percentage 54.6% 44.1%

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Al D'Amato

Elected U.S. Senator

Chuck Schumer

The 1998 United States Senate election in New York took place on November 3, 1998 along with elections to the United States Senate in other states as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Al D'Amato was running for re-election to a fourth term, but lost to Chuck Schumer in what was considered by many to be the "high[est] profile and nastiest" contest of the year.[1]

Democratic primary



Ferraro was well known for having been the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee and had also run but lost in the Democratic primary in the 1992 U.S. Senate election in New York. Green had been the Democratic nominee in the 1986 election, but lost in the general election to D'Amato.

At the start of 1998, Ferraro had done no fundraising, out of fear of conflict of interest with her job hosting the CNN program Crossfire, but was nonetheless perceived as the front-runner by virtue of her name recognition;[2] indeed, December and January polls had her 25 percentage points ahead of Green in the race and even further ahead of Schumer.[3][4] Unlike her previous campaigns, Ferraro's family finances never became an issue in 1998.[3] However, she lost ground during the summer, with Schumer catching her in the polls by early August and then soon passing her.[5] Schumer, a tireless fundraiser, outspent her by a five-to-one margin, and Ferraro failed to establish a political image current with the times.[3][6] In the September 15, 1998 primary, she was beaten soundly by Schumer with a 51 percent to 26 percent margin.[3] Unlike the bitter 1992 Democratic senatorial primary, this contest was not divisive, and Ferraro and third-place finisher Green endorsed Schumer at a unity breakfast the following day.[7]


Source Date Mark Green Geraldine Ferraro Charles Schumer
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 25% 48% 15%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 25% 48% 12%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 19% 46% 18%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 20% 50% 15%
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 23% 46% 19%
Quinnipiac July 16, 1998 24% 39% 28%


The primaries were held on September 15, 1998.
Democratic primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chuck Schumer 388,701 50.84
Democratic Geraldine Ferraro 201,625 26.37
Democratic Mark J. Green 145,819 19.07
Democratic Eric Ruano-Melendez 28,493 3.73
Source:, NY US Senate - D Primary

Republican primary


Source Date Alfonse D'Amato Betsy McCaughey Ross
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 55% 26%

Other primaries


Independence Party primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independence Chuck Schumer 2,562 58.04
Independence Mark Green 1,852 41.96
Source:, NY US Senate - IDP Primary

Right to life

Right to Life Party primary for New York United States Senate election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Right to Life Al D'Amato 3,798 63.07
Right to Life Thomas Drolesky 2,224 36.93
Source:, NY US Senate - RTL Primary

General election




  • Rose Ana Berbeo (Socialist Workers Party)
  • Corinne Kurtz (Marijuana Reform Party)
  • Joel Kovel (Green Party)
  • William McMillen (Libertarian Party)


Source Date Alfonse D'Amato (R) Geraldine Ferraro (D) Charles Schumer (Lib)
Quinnipiac July 23, 1997 32% 55% -
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 36% 54% -
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 38% 52% -
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 38% 50% -
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 37% 53% -
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 41% 38% 12%
Source Date Alfonse D'Amato (R) Mark Green (D) Charles Schumer (Lib)
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 39% 47% -
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 41% 46% -
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 43% 43% -
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 44% 44% -
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 44% 28% 14%
Source Date Alfonse D'Amato (R) Charles Schumer (D)
Quinnipiac September 25, 1997 40% 43%
Quinnipiac December 11, 1997 45% 40%
Quinnipiac February 26, 1998 45% 41%
Quinnipiac March 26, 1998 45% 41%
Quinnipiac June 18, 1998 49% 37%
Quinnipiac September 24, 1998 43% 47%
Quinnipiac October 14, 1998 45% 46%
Quinnipiac October 27, 1998 44% 48%
Quinnipiac November 2, 1998 42% 50%


During the campaign, D'Amato attempted to brand Schumer as a diehard liberal, while Schumer accused D'Amato of being a liar. When D'Amato's first strategy didn't work, D'Amato attacked his opponent's attendance record as a member of Congress, which Schumer refuted.[8][9]

Late in the campaign, D'Amato called Schumer a "putzhead" in a private meeting with Jewish supporters ("putz" is Yiddish for penis, and can be slang for "fool").[10] The senator later apologized.[1]

In the last days of the campaign, D'Amato campaigned with popular robocalls from President Clinton and mobilization from two big unions, United Federation of Teachers and 1199.[8]

Though D'Amato was effective in obtaining federal government funds for New York State projects during his Senate career, he failed to capitalize on this in the election.[8] Also, Schumer was a tenacious fund-raiser and was aggressive in his attacks.[11] The candidates spent $30 million during the race.[8]


Source: New York State Board of Elections General Election Results
1998 United States Senate election, New York
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chuck Schumer 2,386,314
Independence Chuck Schumer 109,027
Liberal Chuck Schumer 55,724
total Chuck Schumer 2,551,065 54.62
Republican Al D'Amato 1,680,203
Conservative Al D'Amato 274,220
Right to Life Al D'Amato 104,565
total Al D'Amato (inc.) 2,058,988 44.08
Marijuana Reform Party Corinne Kurtz 34,281 0.73
Green Joel Kovel 14,735 0.32
Libertarian William McMillen 8,223 0.18
Socialist Workers Rose Ana Berbeo 3,513 0.08
Democratic gain from Republican
Per New York State law, Schumer and D'Amato totals include minor party line votes: Independence Party and Liberal Party for Schumer, Right to Life Party for D'Amato.


  1. ^ a b "Schumer topples D'Amato in New York Senate race". CNN. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b c d Waldman, Amy (1998-09-17). "The Farewell: For Ferraro, Early Promise, Lopsided Loss".  
  4. ^   p. 17.
  5. ^ Schumer, Positively American, p. 31.
  6. ^ Schumer, Positively American, pp. 18, 30.
  7. ^ Schumer, Positively American, pp. 33, 39.
  8. ^ a b c d e Online NewsHour: 98 Election - The New York Wrap-up - November 4, 1998
  9. ^ Online NewsHour: New York Senate Race - October 28, 1998
  10. ^ a b "New York Senate race an old-fashioned street fight". CNN. 
  11. ^ a b Nagourney, Adam (November 4, 1998). "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: NEW YORK STATE -- THE SENATE; Schumer Uses D'Amato's Tactics To Win Senate Election Handily".  
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