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Saturday, 20 May, 2000, 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK
Rick Lazio: NY underdog

Rick Lazio, who has put himself forward as a Republican candidate for the New York Senate seat, is little known outside Long Island.

He has served New York's second Congressional district as Congressman for four terms.

But a poll already makes him the underdog against the Democratic candidate, First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Taken by Quinnipiac College on 16 May, the poll showed Mrs Clinton ahead of Mr Lazio by 50% to 31%.

Hillary Clinton
Rival Hillary Clinton does not have a New York background
His chief weakness is seen by observers as his low profile compared to that of the first lady. Mrs Clinton's campaign has also been up and running for more than a year.

On the other hand - unlike Mrs Clinton - he is a New Yorker. Mr Lazio played his card immediately, highlighting his New York roots.

In the speech announcing his candidacy, Mr Lazio referred to his Democratic rival as an outsider and a "carpetbagger".

"I know you can tell from my accent that I'm a life-long New Yorker," he said. "You see I don't have to fake it. New York isn't just the place I represent. It's my home."

'Moderate conservative'

Last year, Mr Lazio appeared ready to challenge New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but backed down as Republican Party support solidified behind the mayor, then seen as the strongest candidate to take on Mrs Clinton.

Mr Lazio, who characterises himself as a moderate conservative, was elected in 1992 to represent Long Island, a mostly conservative suburban enclave.

He has amassed $3.5m in campaign funds for his Congressional re-election effort, while Mrs Clinton has amassed $12m for her Senate bid.

Mr Lazio is Italian by descent. He is married to Patricia and has two daughters, Molly and Kelsey.

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See also:

19 May 00 | Americas
Giuliani quits Senate race
08 Jul 99 | Americas
Profile: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
17 Jan 00 | Vote USA 2000
Hillary bites the Big Apple
08 Apr 00 | Americas
Hillary edges ahead in polls
27 Apr 00 | Americas
Giuliani diagnosed with cancer
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