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Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau gave his official blessing to Cyrus R. Vance Jr. yesterday, four months after the veteran prosecutor announced he would not seek a 10th term. The next district attorney should “know the criminal justice system from both sides” and understand that “DNA science is both a sword and a shield,” Mr. Morgenthau said. The district attorney should “seek justice rather than revenge” and “be respected rather than loved or hated, by all parties, including defendants,” said Mr. Morgenthau in an apparent swipe at one of Mr. Vance’s challengers, former Acting Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for district attorney in 2005. Mr. Vance “shares these priorities,” and is the “best qualified” candidate to ensure the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office remains the best in the country, said Mr. Morgenthau, 89, who was joined on the steps of the State Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street by former Mayor David Dinkins, New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Mr. Vance. “It is a true honor to have the endorsement of Robert Morgenthau—a legal giant, a great friend, and an invaluable mentor to me,” and so many other lawyers, Mr. Vance said at the press conference. Endorsements for Democratic Candidates for Manhattan District Attorney . Mr. Morgenthau’s endorsement of Mr. Vance, 55, whom he had previously called the “most qualified” candidate comes as no surprise, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact yesterday’s announcement will have on voters in the Sept. 15 primary and how far Mr. Morgenthau will go to back Mr. Vance, a partner at Morvillo Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer. The endorsement comes amid news reports that Mr. Morgenthau is disappointed with the way Mr. Vance’s campaign is going, which Mr. Morgenthau dismissed as unfounded “media gossip.” As for why he picked yesterday to endorse Mr. Vance, Mr. Morgenthau quipped he was waiting for “the first day of summer” without rain. Mr. Morgenthau said he was relying on a 1983 opinion of the New York State Bar Association (Ethics Opinion 552), which permits an incumbent district attorney not running for re-election to endorse a candidate provided the endorsement is based solely on the district attorney’s perception of the candidate’s qualifications, not “upon personal or partisan political considerations.” Mr. Morgenthau is prohibited from legally handing over his war chest to Mr. Vance, but said he planned to spend the money “wisely.” As of January, Mr. Morgenthau had raised $778,580 and had an additional $105,298 remaining from the 2005 contest with Ms. Synder ( NYLJ, Jan. 20). Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Mr. Morgenthau’s formal endorsement can only be a good thing for Mr. Vance. “It’s a plus from a highly respected guy,” who has been in office for decades, Mr. Carroll said in an interview. In a race expected to have low turnout, some potential voters who did not know Mr. Morgenthau favored Mr. Vance will say, “holy smokes, Morgenthau’s for him.” And formally “trotting out” this endorsement” has to “have some impact” even among people who already knew Mr. Morgenthau backed Mr. Vance, Mr. Carroll said. The campaigns of the two other Democratic contenders for Mr. Morgenthau’s seat, Richard M. Aborn, 56, and Ms. Snyder, 67, played down the significance of the endorsement. A spokeswoman for Mr. Aborn, the managing partner of Constantine Cannon, said, “The fact that over 30 leaders and organizations who supported Morgenthau in 2005 ignored his lobbying for Vance and chose to support Richard Aborn instead, shows that in a democracy who you are is still more important than who you know,” Alexis Grenell said in a statement. She cited Mr. Aborn’s “progressive and effective vision for the office” and “record of real results” as the reason for this “overwhelming” show of support. In a statement, a spokesman for Ms. Snyder, a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, said “with 35 years of experience as an innovative prosecutor, judge and public servant, Leslie has the qualifications and progressive vision to be Manhattan’s next DA, and that’s what the voters are looking for.” @

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