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Former U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller H. Carl McCall are running even among New York's Democratic voters in the race for the party's nomination for governor, a statewide poll reported today.

The poll was good news for McCall, who was rocked earlier this month by another independent poll showing the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo with a big lead over him in next year's election.

The new poll, from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn., showed Cuomo favored by 36 percent of Democrats, while McCall was the choice of 35 percent, a statistically insignificant difference. Twenty-seven percent were undecided.

A Feb. 2 poll from Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion had Cuomo leading McCall, 45 percent to 25 percent. A Quinnipiac poll in December had Cuomo leading McCall, 39 percent to 33 percent.

Today's poll also showed Republican Gov. George E. Pataki leading Cuomo, 46 percent to 37 percent, when the question of favorites is put to all voters, and leading McCall, 43 percent to 36 percent.

Clinical trials for painkiller halted amid tumor concern

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pfizer Corp. halted some clinical trials of a painkilling medication after federal regulators voiced concern about a study suggesting that the medication increased the incidence of tumors in mice.

New York-based Pfizer sent written notices to hospitals and research centers to stop giving the drug pregabalin to patients who suffer chronic pain.

Pfizer said that it still expects the drug to win federal Food and Drug Administration approval this year despite the setback. There is no evidence that the drug causes tumors in humans, Pfizer said.

Pfizer spokeswoman Mariann Caprino said Tuesday that while the pain-related clinical trials have been halted, others are continuing for patients with epilepsy and a variety of anxiety disorders. About 2,400 people nationwide are participating in clinical trials, including about 1,000 in the painkilling trials.

The drug was hailed as a leap for painkilling, with the power of morphine -- but without morphine's side effects. It has been given to people with pinched nerves, shingles, HIV, stroke or other chronic and painful illnesses.

Sealed criminal cases found available for public scrutiny

ROCHESTER (AP) -- Scores of criminal cases in New York, ranging from drunken driving to rape, have mistakenly been made available for public scrutiny in the past three years despite being ordered sealed.

Most of the defendants had either been acquitted or had their charges dismissed. But the records were left open for anyone to read, including potential employers carrying out background checks, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported Tuesday.

During a monthlong investigation, the newspaper said it was able to obtain 85 files that were supposed to have been sealed.

"This defeats the entire system and turns a simple arrest into a conviction," defense attorney Edward Fiandach told the paper.

Blaming the problem on confusion involving sealing procedures, Monroe County and New York State officials are trying to identify and properly seal the documents.

FDR Library to offer bids in auction for private items

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sixty years after Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the nation's first presidential library, the Hyde Park institution will be among the bidders when about $1.2 million worth of letters, paintings and other items once owned by FDR and his wife, Eleanor, go on the auction block today.

"We are very interested in recovering some of these things that have close connections to FDR and Eleanor. We want to bring them back here," said Mark Hunt, deputy curator of the Roosevelt Library & Museum, the main repository for FDR's papers.

The National Park Service, which runs two Roosevelt family homes and a cottage now being restored on the Hyde Park estate overlooking the Hudson River, also was expected to bid in a two-day sale that has attracted unusually high interest, according to Bendetta Roux, a spokeswoman for Christie's auction house.

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