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Can Grandpa Munster Rattle Voters?

The candidate, his ponytail swinging behind a battered baseball cap, leans in close to speak shriek, actually with a potential voter.

The topic: mandatory drug sentences. The long-shot candidate, "Grandpa" Al Lewis, wants a repeal of New York's draconian penalties. The diminutive, elderly voter disagrees.

A brief debate ensues, until the 88-year-old star of The Munsters and Car 54, Where Are You? brings it to an abrupt close.

"Shut up!" he howls in the woman's face, as Rockefeller Center passersby stare in disbelief. "I'll call the police right now! Shut up!"

Trick or treat: Could this be the next governor of New York?

Electing Lewis is a trick that would turn Houdini vampire-pale. But the unrepentant, unexpurgated Lewis is a real treat. Lily Munster's blood-sucking dad is now the Green Party's nominee to replace GOP incumbent Gov. George Pataki.

This campaign stars an octogenarian with nothing to lose, and little chance of winning. He went to court for the right to list himself as "Grandpa" on the Nov. 3 ballot because his alias from The Munsters was "in the public interest."

Last week, a judge ruled that he couldn't call himself "Grandpa" on the ballot. Lewis riposted by calling State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi a "fool."

Name-calling is an essential weapon in the Lewis arsenal. He even offers an alternate ballot listing for his opponent: "Potato Head Pataki." As in, "I am the only viable candidate to defeat Potato Head Pataki!"

Not a single political expert, pollster, or Green Party regular shares Lewis' vision of a Grandpa inaugural.

The Greens, who drafted Lewis after former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said no, hope the former resident of 1313 Mockingbird Lane can draw 50,000 votes and earn them permanent ballot status in New York state.

Lewis, on the other hand, is just hoping for a good time. He once left Howard Stern speechless, sending the shock jock scrambling for the delay button by leading a vulgar chant during a live broadcast. Recently he joined porn star Ron Jeremy as co-host of Screw magazine's 30th anniversary party.

And he offers no apologies.

"The only person who tells me what to do is my mother, and she's been dead for many years," Lewis says bluntly over a seafood lunch. "I always say, `If you want Al Lewis, you get the whole Al Lewis. He may be loud, he may be opinionated, he may smoke smelly cigars that's Al Lewis.'"

"If you don't want him, fine!" Lewis continues, his distinctive Brooklyn bark rising. "I'm not gonna feel bad! I'll go on with my life. I don't walk on eggshells for nobody."

He don't dress to impress nobody either. Lewis' look is, uh, distinctive: snow-white Elvis sideburns, Western-style bolo tie with matching belt buckle, plaid shorts, a cigar like a road flare.

Even in this enseble, Lewis remains instantly recognizable. Waiting for his wife on a midtown Manhattan street, he quickly becomes the center of attention.

"Go get 'em Al!" shouted one supporter. "I was for you with Herman Munster, I'm with you now!"

Grandpa, with the air of a man granted immortality by reruns, shrugs as the man walks off. "The pervasiveness of television," he says. "You're in their living room."

The Greens hope to cash in on that notoriety, although there were worries about Grandpa's propensity to say anything, about anybody, anytime.

"He's eccentric, but I think most people running for office have to be a little bit different," Craig Seeman, the Green Party downstate leader, says diplomatically.

Written By Larry McShane

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