On Saturday, the Liberal Party, which is attempting to make a comeback after years of dormancy, held congressional endorsement interviews.
To my understanding, at least some of the candidates in the race for Rep. Charlie Rangel’s seat came and were screened by the party, though I’m still trying to get more info on that. A spokeswoman for Rangel confirmed that he was in attendance, and a spokesman for State Sen. Adriano Espaillat said he was also aware of the interviews taking place, though he didn’t immediately have more information.
This story hits a bit close to home because the main person trying to revive the Liberal Party is Tom Allon, the CEO of Manhattan Media, which owns City & State. He is also a long-shot candidate for mayor and already has the party’s backing for 2013. Anyway, I asked Allon in an email last night about the fact that the candidate interviews for the Liberal Party were apparently held in the conference room of Manhattan Media – the place where Allon’s weekly newspapers hold candidate interviews.
In response, Allon said that Martin Hassner, the executive director of the Liberal Party, ran the entire process and that he was not involved in the meetings. Allon also said that Hassner rented out the Manhattan Media facilities and paid market rate for them. Hassner has not yet returned a request for comment.
The appeal of landing the Liberal Party endorsement isn’t quite what it used to be. A decade ago, the party lost its ballot status after Andrew Cuomo suddenly pulled out of the governor’s race – and that’s something that could only be regained, at the earliest, in 2014 gubernatorial race. As it stands, the party’s ballot line (assuming a candidate petitions on successfully) is over on the corner of the ballot, in the same areas as parties like the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. Still, throwing the words “Endorsed by the Liberal Party” on a mailer could be helpful, I suppose, in a Democratic primary.
In addition, former Liberal Party boss Raymond Harding was convicted in 2009 for peddling political favors in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Still, Allon, in an interview over the weekend, told Roberto Perez that he was trying to bring the Liberal Party back because, “The Liberal Party was created to keep the Democratic Party honest and the Republicans liberal.”
UPDATE: Allon tells me the endorsement meeting was attended by Rangel, Espaillat and Assemblywoman Grace Meng. Assemblyman Rory Lancman was invited but did not attend, according to Allon.
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