Union Muscle

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Even with Election Day 2001 nearly two years away, individual donors and PACs are already pumping cash into the coffers of pols planning to run for mayor. Comptroller Alan Hevesi leads the pack with $2.3 million in his purse, followed by Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer with just over a million dollars in the tank. Money, however, isn’t everything: Witness Reba White Williams, who showered $1.12 million on her special election City Council campaign last fall. She broke all the records, only to lose spectacularly. And in a recent informal survey by the web site NYVOTE.com, Public Advocate Mark Green–third in campaign cash with just over $800,000–was voters’ top choice.

What may matter more than money is muscle–people power, in other words, and the best source of that is labor unions. With thousands of troops to staff phone banks and pass out palm cards, the city’s unions were widely credited with getting last fall’s charter revision proposal defeated by a three-to-one margin.

Since candidates that get union money may also be able to count on union manpower, a quick look at how organized labor is doling out its campaign cash reveals some interesting trends. While Hevesi leads in this category, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone comes in a close second. Meanwhile, traditional labor-friend Sal Albanese lags well behind.

Republicans get the brush-off: Former Deputy Mayor Fran Reiter, Assemblymember John Ravitz and Councilmember Thomas Ognibene haven’t registered a cent of union money, according to Campaign Finance Board records.