Some Manhattan Democratic clubs are launching a backlash against Sen. Hillary Clinton amid some of her recent shifts toward the right.
Once a liberal favorite, Clinton is being shunned in her reelection bid by four local Democratic groups furious over her vote in favor of the Iraq war and her newly cozy relationship with conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
"She is not in Arkansas anymore," said Yayoi Tsuchitani, campaign chairwoman of the Village Independent Democrats, which voted this month to back Jonathan Tasini, Clinton's little-known Democratic challenger for her Senate seat.
"This is New York we are dealing with, and the majority of New Yorkers are against the war," Tsuchitani added.
The defections among the activist left of the city's Democratic Party — long considered a loyal chunk of Clinton's political base — suggest that her recent rush to the political middle ground and beyond may exact a price.
In addition to the Village Independent Democrats, the equally vociferous Downtown Independent Democrats also voted recently to endorse the anti-war Tasini, a 49-year-old freelance writer and longtime labor organizer from upper Manhattan.
Other established political clubs in Manhattan — including the upper West Side's Three Parks Independent Democrats and downtown's Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats — chose in recent weeks to endorse no one for Senate rather than support Clinton.
"Some people wanted to send a message," said Sylvia Feinman, president of the Gramercy club, which has backed Clinton in the past. "I think there is still support for her, but there were also some feelings expressed that she was moving away from the views of her base."
In recent months, as Clinton has geared up for what most believe will be a run for President, she has staked out new, moderate stances on several key issues — alarming some liberals in the process.
She has called abortion "a tragic choice," sponsored a bill to make flag-burning a crime, pushed for a crackdown on violent video games and supported the war in Iraq.
Democratic eyebrows were raised again earlier this month when it was revealed that Murdoch — whose conservative Fox News Network regularly lambastes Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton — plans to sponsor a fund-raiser for her.
The senator, who marched yesterday with her husband in a Memorial Day parade in their adopted hometown of Chappaqua, dodged a question about the Manhattan club defections.
"Oh, I'm very excited about going to Buffalo," she told the Daily News, referring to this week's Democratic Party state convention.
A state Democratic Party spokesman emphasized that the former First Lady remains extremely popular in polls and is expected to be the overwhelmingly renominated in Buffalo tomorrow.
"Sen. Clinton enjoys overwhelming support among Democrats throughout the state and city," said party spokesman Blake Zeff, who noted that one recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Clinton's job approval rating among Democrats at a stratospheric 81%.
Still, the public slaps at Clinton were greeted as welcome news by Tasini, who spent most of last week biking from New York to Buffalo to underscore one of his campaign slogans, "Bikes, Not Bombs!"
"I think I stand with the majority of Democratic primary voters on the war," Tasini said, "while Hillary Clinton stands with Bush, [Vice President] Cheney and Condoleezza Rice."
© 2006 Daily News, L.P.