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DEMOCRATS WARNED AGAINST COSTLY PRIMARY

A high-spending primary for governor in 2006 would sap resources from the Democratic Party and possibly disrupt plans to seize a majority in the State Senate, the top Democrat in the chamber said Wednesday.

Minority Leader David A. Paterson of Harlem said the party has to display a "little more discipline" than it did in 2002, when State Comptroller H. Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo, former federal secretary of housing and urban development, spent about $17 million in a primary contest, even though Cuomo dropped out a week before Primary Day.

Paterson predicted a high-profile primary in two years could cost party donors $25 million and result in "draining all of our resources" for the next general election.

"That would really mess up my plan" for Democrats to gain control of the State Senate for the first time since 1965, Paterson said.

State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer has all but declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor, with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, overwhelmingly re-elected last week to another term in Washington, considered a possible Democratic rival for the Executive Mansion.

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