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Gov. George E. Pataki said Monday he is asking the Republican State Committee to elect Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell as party chairman to replace the retiring William Powers, with whom Pataki has been feuding in recent years.

Treadwell is Pataki's appointed secretary of state for New York State.

Pataki praised Powers, who has headed the GOP for 11 years, as "the best party chairman in the Americas" during a break from the National Governors' Association winter meeting in Washington.

In a news conference, Pataki strongly endorsed President Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut, saying it would help New York more than many other states because of the high incomes earned there.

The president's bill, Pataki said, would mean that a New York family of four earning $50,000 a year would receive a 50 percent cut in federal income taxes.

"I believe that when you cut taxes you increase investment, increase jobs and economic activity and ultimately increase revenues," the governor said.

One of Pataki's would-be rivals in the 2002 election, Democratic state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, attacked the Bush plan as tilted toward the rich.

"This is a tax cut that overwhelmingly assists the wealthiest people," McCall said in an interview Monday in Washington. "Either (Pataki) does not understand the impact that this will have on New Yorkers or he doesn't care."

Pataki declined to endorse the proposal by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., that all federal prosecutors serving in New York, including Denise O'Donnell in Buffalo, be allowed to serve out their terms. O'Donnell's ends in October 2002.

He said the decision about allowing U.S. attorneys to complete their four-year tenure "is up to the (Bush) administration."

The governor also said he was nearing a decision as to who will replace Victor Martucci as a member of the Buffalo & Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority.

"Chairman Martucci did a great job," Pataki said, "and it is a loss that he is stepping down.

"Finally, we are seeing the Peace Bridge Authority move forward in the right way, which is to look at all the environmental impacts of all the different alternatives, the signature bridge and everything else."

Facing a tough re-election next year if he runs, as is expected, for a third term, Pataki said Treadwell was "the perfect person" to succeed Powers.

Republicans say Treadwell would set his sights first on re-electing Pataki, who would face either McCall or former federal housing secretary Andrew Cuomo. This is Pataki's first opportunity in more than six years in office to dictate who he wants to run the state GOP.

Powers, in a statement, said he was leaving to "move on other endeavors." His friends insist the decision to leave was not the result of any falling-out with Pataki or because of the Republican Party's tough statewide losses over the past few years.

Those include last fall's victory by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton over former Rep. Rick Lazio and the 1998 defeats of former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and former Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

Passed over for the job was the Erie County Republican Party chairman, Robert Davis, whose grass-roots organizing abilities had put him on the short list of candidates to succeed Powers.

Treadwell, a former Sports Illustrated writer, comes from a wealthy family in Essex County, where he once served as county GOP chairman. He has donated huge sums to Pataki and Republican efforts over the years.

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