Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated his 55th birthday this week, and what he did get? Only a divided State Senate, which could give him more power but could also bring dysfunction back to Albany. Cuomo approved of the power-sharing agreement as long as its leaders take up his policies, but he might want to re-gift the whole thing if it doesn’t work out after a few months. For now, here are this week’s winners, and their unfortunate counterparts, the losers.
Jeff Klein – Apart from suddenly being stuck with a rather unfortunate Brangelina-style nickname – Skleinos – things are looking pretty good for the head of the Independent Democratic Conference: he gets to share the leadership of the state Senate with Sen. Dean Skelos, his breakaway IDC will be recognized and he will have a huge say in what ends up on the state’s agenda as long as the arrangement holds. While everyone’s wondering how well this marriage will work, Klein is still happily in the honeymoon phase.
Joe Lhota – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been earning a “Whole Lhota Love” from the public, legislators and even the city’s editorial pages for his work restoring the water-logged subway system after the hurricane. He was received warmly in Washington, D.C., where he told legislators about the need to repair and rebuild the transit system to protect against future storms. And the Post, the city’s business community and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani are urging him to run for mayor. Never a wallflower, Lhota raised the possibility of a mayoral bid with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who did not respond enthusiastically. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Joe.
Nita Lowey – The congresswoman made history this week when she broke into one of the last boys’ clubs in Congress by becoming the first woman to serve as ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. Lowey, who defeated Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio to win the post in the only contested Democratic race for a seat on a major congressional committee, will now be well positioned to help wring out the dollars New York desperately needs to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Lowey has already made it clear that she will be vigilant in accomplishing this important lift for the region, teaming up this week with Rep. Peter King to call the administration’s request for $50 billion in Sandy aid “insufficient.”
Julie Menin – She doesn’t already hold public office like her rivals, and she’s never run for an elected office before, but the former Manhattan Community Board 1 chairwoman has been doing pretty well for herself lately. She already served notice that she was not to be ignored when she maxed out on fundraising, and when she officially announced her candidacy for Manhattan borough prez this week, she had a list of over 200 endorsements. Of course, that will only help so much against a trio of more experienced opponents.
Stephen Ross – After numerous stops and starts, the Hudson Yards project developer was all smiles this week as his prized $15 billion, 26-acre behemoth finally broke ground on Tuesday. While some residents of the area are still up in arms over the project, Ross was able to push through and get it done, with a generous assist from Mayor Bloomberg who, as is his wont with many of the city’s recent capital projects, gave Ross a sweetheart deal by re-zoning a 60-block area and doling out $100 million in property tax exemptions. The entirety of the project will take about a dozen years to finish, with the first tower scheduled for completion in 2015. In the meantime, we hope those residents can tolerate the incessant noise from the construction, not to mention Ross’ laughter as he bathes in taxpayer-subsidized dollar bills.
Col Allan – Rarely does a news photo spark such an outcry, but the New York Post ran one of the most controversial images of the year on its cover this week. The photo showed a man who fell onto the subway tracks and is about to be struck by an oncoming train, with the headline “DOOMED” below him. But some think the headline should refer instead to the job security of the Post editors who signed off on the cover in the first place, and to Allan, who ultimately bears responsibility for editorial content at the tabloid.
Dan Cantor – Generally, antagonizing people is not the best way to get what you want from them. It was probably in the cards that the IDC would join forces with the GOP to control the state Senate, regardless of what statement Cantor and the Working Families Party came out with in advance of the IDC’s decision to jump ship, but saying that Klein & Co.’s “solution violates a core principle of democracy” gave the IDC a bit of extra justification for their move – and was a clear reminder that just because the WFP gives a politician its line doesn’t mean it necessarily has a say in deciding his or her agenda.
Christine Quinn – Quinn was put in an awkward spot this week when the Times reported that Mayor Bloomberg had a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which he urged the former New York senator to throw her hat in the mayoral race. Quinn has long been presumed to be Bloomy’s favorite, with many of her political decisions viewed as calculated steps to gain his future endorsement, so it had to sting a bit to learn that the mayor supposedly found the current field of candidates “uninspiring.” The day the story ran, Bloomberg had a testy exchange with reporters at a press conference with Quinn in attendance, downplaying the conversation with Clinton and scolding the press for trying to stir up a conflict between him and the Council Speaker. If it’s any consolation, at least Quinn has plenty of time to win over the mayor.
Domenic Recchia – The Brooklyn councilman’s dreams of counting the city’s dollars came abruptly to an end after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer abandoned his mayoral ambitions and switched to the race for city comptroller. A Recchia spokesman compared Stringer to a “Tammany-style bully,” but the lawmaker endorsed Stringer for the seat when it became clear the challenge would have been too formidable. Recchia may now try to succeed Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, where his stiffest competition so far is state Sen. Eric Adams.
Malcolm Smith – If the Independent Democratic Conference is the Fantastic Four (see: The Capitol, Vol. 4, No.1), is Malcolm Smith playing the role of Spider-Man and joining the team for just a few issues? Is the mild-mannered Democrat sneaking off at night in a Republican costume to cut taxes and reform the pension system? And will we see him running for mayor in an upcoming issue? These are only a few of the questions that we’ve been puzzling over after the state senator’s opportunistic embrace of the IDC.
Tags: Christine Quinn, Col Allan, Dan Cantor, Domenic Recchia, eric adams, Hillary Clinton, Hudson Yards, Hurricane Sandy, IDC, Jeff Klein, joe lhota, Julie Menin, Marcy Kaptur, Marty Markowitz, Michael Bloomberg, Nita Lowey, Peter King, Rudy Giuliani, Scott Stringer, Stephen Ross, Working Families Party