SHOCK JOCK HOWARD STERN RUNS FOR GOVERNOR OF N.Y.

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Howard Stern is God-or Howard Stern is a jerk.

This typifies the passionately disparate reactions to the controversial shock jock's seemingly improbable but all too viable bid to unseat Mario Cuomo as governor of New York in November.

Mr. Stern, candidate of the economically conservative, socially liberal Libertarian Party, is running what even the most novice political pundit would characterize as an unorthodox campaign: No handlers. No political ads. No baby kissing.

Just a syndicated national radio show, listened to in New York state by millions of zealous fans, many of voting age.

Mr. Stern's push for public office has caused concern over what to do when an immensely popular entertainment celebrity inexplicably enters the political arena.

For example, does Mr. Stern's radio show constitute a political donation from his employers at Infinity Broadcasting Corp.? New York state caps corporate contributions at $5,000 per campaign, and the value of Mr. Stern's daily program would far exceed that. However, the state Board of Elections ruled last week that the show doesn't represent a contribution.

Members of New York's Libertarian Party seem genuinely supportive of Mr. Stern. One Libertarian said paid membership (annual dues: $15) was 300 before Stern; now it's 800.

Then there's a scruffy crew in Manhattan who purport to be Stern workers, hawking "Stern for Governor" T-shirts at $10 a pop.

"That's not true. I'd like them all to disappear," said Don Buchwald, Mr. Stern's agent. "They aren't connected to Howard ... They're infringing on Howard's copyright."

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