Schneiderman to Face Donovan for N.Y. Attorney General

New York state Senator Eric Schneiderman prevailed among five Democrats to win the party’s nomination for attorney general. He will face Republican Dan Donovan, Staten Island’s district attorney, in the Nov. 2 election.

Schneiderman, 55, captured 34 percent of the vote with 90 percent of election districts reporting, the Associated Press said. His closest competitor, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a career prosecutor and registered Republican until 2005, received 31 percent.

Donovan, 53, Staten Island’s chief prosecutor since 2003, received the Republican nomination at the party’s June convention and faced no primary opposition.

“No one will work harder to clean up the mess in Albany,”Schneiderman told supporters at about 1:15 a.m.

The attorney general’s office has become a political springboard. Eliot Spitzer, who became governor in 2006 and resigned in March 2008 amid a prostitution scandal, and Andrew Cuomo, this year’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, each served in the post.

Schneiderman, a Harvard-educated lawyer from Manhattan who was elected to the state senate in 1998, led an effort last year to repeal laws requiring prison sentences for drug possession.

Campaigning as the “most progressive” candidate, he touted endorsements from civil-rights activist Al Sharpton, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Empire State Pride Agenda, which works for gay rights, and 19 unions, including the 106,000-member United Federation of Teachers.

‘Back to Middle’

“It’s a typical Democratic primary in which the candidates move to the left to win the nomination, then move to center- right to win the election,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a consultant who managed the media campaign for Spitzer’s 1998 election to the post. “Schneiderman is going to have to figure out how to get back to the middle.”

Donovan, who prosecuted narcotics cases in the office of former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau before becoming New York City’s first elected Republican district attorney in more than 50 years, won re-election in 2007 in Staten Island with about 68 percent of the vote.

On his campaign website, Donovan vows to stop government corruption, track the flow of terrorist money into New York, expose legislators’ conflicts of interest and “protect investors from the financial crimes of Wall Street.”

Broad Power

New York’s attorney general’s office devotes most of its resources to defending agencies against lawsuits and overseeing non-profit corporations and charities. The state’s Martin Act gives the office broad power to look for fraud in the sales of securities, property and other assets in the absence of a specific complaint.

Spitzer used that weapon to focus attention on the financial industry and became known as “the sheriff of Wall Street.” Cuomo, 52, who became attorney general in 2007, pursued kickbacks, gifts and free trips to colleges and financial aid officers by firms in the $85 billion student-loan industry. He forced American International Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. to disclose bonuses paid to executives after receiving taxpayer funded federal bail-outs.

Also Running

Among the other Democratic candidates for attorney general, Sean Coffey, 53, a former Navy pilot, federal prosecutor and chief litigator in the shareholder lawsuit against WorldCom Inc., got about 17 percent of the vote; Richard Brodsky, 64, a state assemblyman from Westchester who touted his efforts to increase oversight of bond-issuing authorities, received about 10 percent; and Eric Dinallo, 47, who emphasized his experience as Spitzer’s deputy attorney general supervising probes of Wall Street firms, and as state superintendent of insurance, won about 8 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

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