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Millionaire Manhattan businessman Abe Hirschfeld said Monday that he is considering a possible run for governor on the Independence Party line, a prospect that drew derision from one leader of the new party.

Hirschfeld, 78, said some Independence Party activists have encouraged him to enter the race.

"I know I am far, far more qualified than any one of my opponents," Hirschfeld said.

Word of Hirschfeld's latest possible foray into politics came on the same day that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, appearing in Buffalo, delivered his promised endorsement of New York City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone's bid for the Democratic nomination for governor.

While the winner of the governor's race is expected to be the candidate of the Republican or Democratic parties, the Independence Party line is considered a potential factor in the outcome of a close contest.

Hirschfeld ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1986; was the losing Republican candidate for Manhattan borough president last year; and was publisher of the New York Post newspaper in 1993 for 16 days.

Last year, Hirschfeld was indicted on state income tax-evasion charges. The case is still in the courts.

"You can send me all the fruit in Florida, and it's not going to sway me to an Abe Hirschfeld," said Laureen Oliver, a former state chairwoman of the party.

Millionaire Rochester businessman B. Thomas Golisano was the fledgling party's candidate for governor in 1994 and managed to collect more than 217,000 votes. He said Monday that he has not ruled out running again this year for governor, but would like to see other potential candidates step forward. Hirschfeld in not among them, Golisano said.

Calling Vallone "my oldest friend in New York politics," Moynihan stood outside Buffalo's Trico Products Corp. plant Monday 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.

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

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