United States Senate election in New York, 1992

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United States Senate election in New York, 1992
New York (state)
← 1986 November 3, 1992 1998 →
  Alfonse D'Amato.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Al D'Amato Robert Abrams
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 3,166,994 3,086,200
Percentage 49.0% 47.8%

County Results

Senator before election

Al D'Amato

Elected Senator

Al D'Amato

The 1992 United States Senate election in New York took place on November 3, 1992 alongside other 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 won re-election to a third term. As of 2016, this is the last Senate election in New York won by a Republican.





Early in the campaign, environmentalist attorney, Laurance S. Rockefeller, Jr. nephew of the former governor Nelson, tried to challenge D'Amato in the Republican primary,[1] but fell short of the required signatures to get onto the primary ballot. D'Amato summarily went unchallenged.

The Democratic primary campaign featured State Attorney General Robert Abrams, former U.S. Congresswoman and 1984 vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Reverend Al Sharpton, Congressman Robert J. Mrazek, and New York City Comptroller and former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman. Abrams was considered the early front-runner.[2] Ferraro emphasized her career as a teacher, prosecutor, congresswoman, and mother, and talked about how she was tough on crime.[3] Ferraro drew attacks from the media and her opponents over her husband John Zaccaro's finances and business relationships.[4]

Ferraro became the front-runner, capitalizing on her star power from 1984 and using the campaign attacks against her as an explicitly feminist rallying point for women voters.[4] As the primary date neared, her lead began to dwindle under the charges, and she released additional tax returns from the 1980s to try to defray the attacks.[5] Holtzman ran a negative ad accusing Ferraro and Zaccaro of taking more than $300,000 in rent in the 1980s from a pornographer with purported ties to organized crime.[6] The final debates were nasty, and Holtzman in particular constantly attacked Ferraro's integrity and finances.[7][8] In an unusual election-eve television broadcast, Ferraro talked about the ethnic slurs made against her as an Italian-American.[9] In the September 15, 1992 primary, Abrams edged out Ferraro by less than percentage point, winning 37 percent of the vote to 36 percent.[8] Ferraro did not concede she had lost for two weeks.[10]

After Abrams emerged as the nominee, the Democrats remained divided. In particular, Abrams spent much of the remainder of the campaign trying to get Ferraro's endorsement.[11] Ferraro, enraged and bitter after the nature of the primary,[7][10] ignored Abrams and accepted Bill Clinton's request to campaign for his presidential bid instead. She was eventually persuaded by state party leaders into giving an unenthusiastic endorsement with just three days to go before the general election, in exchange for an apology by Abrams for the tone of the primary.[11]

Abrams was also criticized for calling D'Amato a fascist, and he narrowly lost the general election as a result of these controversies.[12]


General election results[13][14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Al D'Amato 2,652,822
Conservative Al D'Amato 289,258
Right to Life Al D'Amato 224,914
total Al D'Amato 3,166,994 49.0%
Democratic Robert Abrams 2,943,001
Liberal Robert Abrams 143,199
total Robert Abrams 3,086,200 47.8%
Libertarian Norma Segal 108,530 1.7%
New Alliance Mohammad T. Mehdi 56,631 0.9%
Natural Law Stanley Nelson 23,747 0.4%
Socialist Workers Eddie Warren 16,724 0.3%


  1. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (1992-07-12). "JULY 5-11: Rockefeller vs. D'Amato; A Powerful Political Name Reappears in New York". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (1991-10-21). "In Senate Campaign, Ferraro Picks Up Where She Left Off". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Braden, Maria (1996). Women Politicians and the Media. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 135. ISBN 0-8131-1970-7. 
  4. ^ a b Mitchell, Alison (1992-09-01). "For Ferraro, Cheers of '84 Are Still Resonating". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (1992-09-11). "Ferraro Releases Tax Returns for 2 Missing Years to Offset Attacks by Rivals". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Mitchell, Alison (1992-08-27). "Holtzman Draws Criticism From Feminists Over Ads". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b Lurie, Leonard (1994). Senator Pothole: The Unauthorized Biography of Al D'Amato. Birch Lane Press. pp. 465, 467. ISBN 1-55972-227-4. 
  8. ^ a b Purdum, Todd S. (1992-09-16). "Abrams, In Tight Senate Vote, Appears to Edge Out Ferraro". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (1992-09-15). "Senate Race Ends in Whirl Of Appeals". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ a b Verhovek, Sam Howe (1992-10-01). "Abrams Gets A Concession From Ferraro". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ a b Manegold, Catherine S. (1992-11-01). "Ferraro Gets An Apology From Abrams". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Attorney General Abrams to Quit To Join a Law Firm in Manhattan. New York Times. September 9, 1993.
  13. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=3497
  14. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1992election.pdf