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New York City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone today received the backing of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan for the Democratic nomination for governor -- the most significant endorsement yet in the young campaign.

Calling Vallone "my oldest friend in New York politics," Moynihan stood outside Buffalo's Trico Products Corp. plant this morning to hail Vallone for "changing the whole climate" of New York City as a major leader of city government.

"He'll do the same for the State of New York," the senator said.

Moynihan's move is viewed as especially important because he rarely injects himself into primary squabbles such as the one developing for governor. And because Moynihan is the titular head of New York Democrats and a statewide officeholder since 1977, his endorsement ranks as a major coup coming just two days after Vallone placed third in a straw poll of rural Democrats held in Ithaca.

The senator acknowledged that he usually avoids involvement in Democratic primaries.

"But I normally don't have the opportunity to endorse Peter Vallone," he said of one of his earliest political allies. "This is a superb man."

Vallone chose the Trico plant on Ellicott Street to emphasize a platform that increasingly concentrates on upstate economic problems; Trico recently announced it is considering plans that would shift it last manufacturing operations from the area. Both he and Moynihan referred to articles appearing all this week in The Buffalo News outlining the loss of upstate jobs.

But Vallone said that while Gov. Pataki has addressed some problems of taxes and regulations, he has not moved far enough.

"There really is a problem in job creation and retention," he said. "Frankly, if this administration recognized the problem, they'd be doing a lot more about it."

Moynihan added, "I've got a Democrat here who's good for business."

Vallone touted his plan to give preferences to products produced in New York State purchased by New York City government. He believes establishing preferences for such products on a statewide basis could result in thousands of new manufacturing jobs.

"We would give preference to New York State products, whether they be wiper blades or railroad cars or rubber bands," Vallone said. "By giving this 5 percent preference (in contracts), you create more jobs right here. The millions of dollars worth of activity more than makes up for that preference."

The event also drew Common Council Member Robert Quintana, an ardent Vallone backer. Council Member Byron W. Brown attended, though he said he has made no official endorsement. A representative of Council Member Barbara Miller-Williams also was on hand. In addition, John J. Kaczorowski, president of the Buffalo AFL-CIO, lamented at a news conference that Pataki has "done nothing for us."

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