Happiness is a warm gun? Not in New York. The governor played Russian roulette with the Legislature over his package of gun control bills and the Republicans blinked, passing the toughest firearms restrictions in the country. Further downstate, the mayor celebrated the passage of the New York Safe Act while blasting the teachers union over evaluations and threw bus drivers under the bus as they went on strike. And even further to the south, Congress finally signed off on federal funding to help us recover from Hurricane Sandy. We’re all winners after that vote, but here are this week’s standouts, your lucky Winners and their unfortunate counterparts, the Losers.
Andrew Cuomo – The governor promised gun control legislation to ban assault weapons and reduce the number of bullets in magazines at his State of the State address last week. On the second day of the legislative session, he signed the bill into law. A vocal group of opponents, including the Post‘s Fred Dicker, railed against the governor, but nearly three out of four New Yorkers support the legislation, according to a Siena poll released this week, and nearly seven out of 10 New Yorkers approve of the job Cuomo is doing overall. Minutes before he signed the bill, Cuomo’s campaign announced he has nearly $22.5 million in the bank to spend on his re-election efforts. It’s good to be king.
Simcha Felder – Months after the Brooklyn state senator’s defection from the Democratic conference to caucus with the GOP, we finally found out what Felder’s spoils were for making the switch: chair of the newly formed subcommittee on New York City education and a seat on the Children and Families Committee. Felder may have ticked off the Senate Dems for messing with their potential majority, but he now has something to show his heavily Orthodox Jewish district—where many were reportedly not surprised or upset by Felder’s defection, and where education and family issues are crucial. Regardless of on which side you fall in the party-switching debate, give credit to Felder for the gumption to make an unpopular political move – that just might turn out to be the best move for his constituents, and yes, for himself.
Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos – Both senators currently are majority coalition leaders and rotate the position of temporary president as a result of their unprecedented power-sharing agreement. Does it really matter that few of their colleagues knew who the temporary president is on a daily basis? Klein said it didn’t, and apparently he’s right. The co-leaders got significant legislation passed, and the Senate ran relatively smoothly during the first week of the session. And a majority of New Yorkers approve of their arrangement, according to a Siena poll that came out this week. Things may change down the road as more contentious bills surface, but for now the Senate looks like it’s working and even Democrats, who are in the minority, are relatively pleased. As Republican state Sen. Kathy Marchione told us, “Sharing of power is not a bad thing.”
Christine Quinn – While it’d be easy to make the Speaker a winner based merely on her lead in the latest Q poll, the fact is a 24-point lead over her nearest Democratic rival is pretty solid, even at this early juncture of the race. Quinn also picked up two endorsements; first, the influential women’s group Emily’s List, and then Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s largest LGBT group. The speaker even turned a negative into a positive when, a day after she was roundly booed at a debate for stating her public support for keeping Police Commissioner Ray Kelly if she were mayor, a Siena poll showed Kelly with the highest approval rating of his tenure. Quinn is starting to live up to her billing as the “front-runner” in the race, and with a huge advantage in fundraising, barring unforeseen circumstances, she could solidify her place a safe distance from the rest of the pack.
Bill Thompson – If there were any doubt whether Bill Thompson’s heart was really in the race for mayor this go around, it was put to rest this week when Thompson posted more than $1 million in donations since July, the most of any candidate in the Democratic field this filing period. Of course, in overall money raised Thompson still trails Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has maxed out her fundraising, as well as City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio… and Anthony Weiner.
Gordon Brown – The Wyoming County Republican Party chairman came under fire after a meeting last week produced an overwhelming vote of no confidence in his leadership. The vote stemmed from Brown’s lack of support for Assemblyman David DiPietro, who won the seat of the retiring Daniel Burling in 2012, and who Brown openly stated “he doesn’t care for.” The plot thickened with the behind-the-scenes involvement of former 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who Brown alleges circulated emails to party members saying Brown should “go back to being a pig farmer,” which seems plausible given Paladino’s history of emailing controversies—including racist and sexist emails he sent to friends during the 2010 campaign. Regardless of the “he said, she said,” a 63 to 33 percent vote margin is pretty damning, and with Brown steadfast in his refusal to resign, this fight could get ugly.
Adolfo Carrión - Gerson Borrero and Rubén Díaz Sr. were both quick to point out this week just how dismally the former Bronx Borough President fared in the latest Q Poll of the 2013 mayoral field. Carrión, the only candidate on the Republican side to have previously held elected office, registered a mere 3 percent against his probable GOP challengers, including less than one percent with women. Unfortunately for Carrión, he’s particularly vulnerable to the perception a poll like this can create of his chances, because the Democrat-turned-independent doesn’t just have to win over voters—he has to get three of the five Republican party chairs on board to give him a Wilson Pakula.
Noah Gotbaum - If education advocate Noah Gotbaum has one thing going for him in his bid for New York City Public Advocate it is name recognition. After all, his stepmother, Betsy Gotbaum, served as Public Advocate from 2002 through 2009. That’s the upside of the family connection. The colossal downside became clear this week when Betsy Gotbaum endorsed state Senator Daniel Squadron for Public Advocate, thus publicly snubbing her stepson. Both parties played it cool, but Noah has got to be boiling. Now he knows what Liz Crowley feels like.
Joe Lazar – When Joe Lazar ran in early 2010 for an empty New York City Council seat, he enjoyed the backing of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, among other high-profile supporters. But the former government staffer lost to David Greenfield, and his defeat wasn’t the end of it. That’s because the Campaign Finance Board this week concluded that Lazar didn’t report all of his in-kind contributions, failed to show that some of Hikind’s campaign expenditures were separate from his own, and exceeded spending limits by thousands of dollars. That adds up to a fine of $123,874 – a penalty even more embarrassing given that Lazar ran on his understanding of budgets.
Michael Mulgrew and Dennis Walcott – The president of the United Federation of Teachers said a deal had been struck on a new teacher evaluation system in New York City, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg blew it up. The New York City Schools chancellor countered that no deal had been reached in the first place. Whoever’s right, the city is one of only four districts not to submit an evaluation plan by the state’s deadline, and now it’s poised to lose $250 million or more in funding. It takes two to get a deal done, and as the mayor said, it’s the students who will suffer. So this week, it’s a pox on both your houses!