Forgive us if we thought the circus was in town—it’s just Anthony Weiner’s mayoral launch. The prodigal pol posed in the streets of Brooklyn for his debut campaign commercial. He traipsed through Harlem before hobnobbing with commuters on the subway. Few have been shy when the topic is Weiner. Even the governor couldn’t help himself, offering that it would be a shame if the city voted for him for mayor. Hot dog, a Cuomo-Weiner battle over New York’s supremacy is one we could relish. Here’s the rest of your Weiners and Losers:
Melinda Katz - For months the large field of candidates for Queens Borough President has vied for the biggest prize in the race prior to Primary Day: the endorsement of the Queens Democratic Party. This week former Councilwoman Melinda Katz garnered that laurel—along with mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and public advocate hopeful Reshma Saujani. The next day Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik pulled out of the contest and soon after threw his support behind Katz. And Councilman Leroy Comrie, who some had projected would get the nod, could be the next one to drop. Add in to the mix State Sen. Tony Avella’s anemic fundraising and State Sen. José Peralta being caught on the Shirley Huntley wiretap, and increasingly this race looks like it’s coming down to a duel between Katz and Peter Vallone, Jr.
Ron LaFrance Jr. - The St. Regis Mohawks followed the lead of the Oneidas this week, coming to the table to reach an agreement with the governor—and not just for table games. The agreement announced on Tuesday grants Chief LaFrance and his tribe exclusive casino gambling rights in the North Country, resolving a three-year disagreement over an earlier pact as the state looks to make non-Indian casinos legal across the state. Discussions on disputed land claims will also be renewed. Now the only question is whether the Senecas will follow suit.
Antonio Reynoso - If there’s anybody who can be considered a winner from the Vito Lopez fallout, it’s Reynoso, Lopez’s opponent in his City Council race. Reynoso, the chief of staff to Councilwoman Diana Reyna, has spent the past few months building support for his campaign, but now with Lopez as radioactive as ever, he can galvanize the anti-Lopez sentiment to his advantage. This week, Reynoso rolled out the support of just about every female New York City legislator, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, adding to his endorsements from labor unions and giving him a nice head start in what is certain to be the most highest profile Council race of the year, if Lopez stays in.
Jimmy Van Bramer - Believe it or not, it looks like we’ve found proof of an honest elected official. When the owner of an indoor rock-climbing center in Queens offered Councilman Van Bramer free use of his facility for fundraisers and access to a list of his company’s Facebook friends in exchange for making a stop-work order he had received for doing illegal construction go away, Van Bramer not only refused to accept, he went to the Department of Investigation. Soon after, DOI ran a sting operation that allegedly caught the businessman red-handed. Many politicians claim they would turn in someone who approached them with a bribe, but Van Bramer is the rare elected to actually demonstrate his integrity.
Anthony Weiner - Yes, his campaign announcement video came off as a pandering mess. Yes, he’s taking flak from everyone from Sal Albanese to Andrew Cuomo. Still, Weiner’s a winner for once again dominating this week’s news cycle by announcing his candidacy for mayor. It remains to be seen how Weiner will fare this late in the game. Some believe he can work his lack of political support and endorsements to his advantage by running as an “outsider” candidate, and he is running second behind Christine Quinn in the most recent polls, mostly off of name recognition alone. If he can prove his chops on policy, he could become more than just a punchline.
Nelson Castro - Only in New York City could a disgraced ex-assemblyman consider running for his old seat and nobody bats an eye. Castro’s legislative career is defined by one shining moment—wearing a wire to expose his Assembly colleague Eric Stevenson—and now he is dealing with his own legal problems that led to him turning snitch. Maybe he can spin his handing Stevenson over to the Feds as his way of weeding out corruption in the Legislature. A corrupt politician running on an anti-corruption platform? Stranger things in city and state politics have happened.
Inez Dickens - Failing to pay your debts—and then letting the press catch wind of it—is not really the best way to make the case for becoming City Council Speaker. The city councilwoman did succeed at fending off debt collectors for several apartment buildings in Harlem, but only after it came out that she owed tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes. And while she can hold onto the buildings, they might be sold off next year if remaining debts are not repaid.
Guillermo Linares - As The Post wrote this week: “He used to be an assemblyman. Now he’s just an ass.” That’s because Linares, who was defeated by Adriano Espaillat last year when he tried to step up to the Senate, was caught by the paper using his old assembly placard to park his luxury SUV in front of a school in his former district. A teacher confirmed that Linares used the parking permit “all the time”, often blocking school buses picking up kids. When confronted, Linares admitted his wrongdoing and promised to turn in the placard the very next day. He also swore that the school was the only place he used the permit, though the Post’s investigation proved otherwise. Hey, don’t worry, Guillermo. With morals like yours, you’ll be back in the Legislature in no time and then you can go back to parking wherever you want.
Vito Lopez - The full release of the JCOPE report cost Lopez his job and perhaps his legacy. Lopez was forced to resign from the Assembly weeks earlier than he had planned when Silver strong armed him last Thursday. He told the Post he may not even run for City Council if his latest round of health tests are not encouraging. Lopez has a pocket of loyal support in Bushwick, but his friends are turning on him. Councilman Steve Levin, his protégé, said he should abandon his Council run, and allies in the state Legislature wish he would go away. Opinion in Albany is split about what he will do in the future, but we expect to hear from Vito in an ugly Council campaign this summer. We can’t hardly wait.
Sheldon Silver - Can anyone remember the last time the eternal speaker apologized for anything? Newspaper editorial boards over the weekend called for him to give up his speakership because he did not refer complaints about Lopez’s behavior to the Assembly Ethics Committee. On Monday, Silver offered his regrets to a ravenous press corps, which pressed him on his role in handling Vito Lopez’s sex scandal. He announced a new sexual harassment policy, but some legislators still grumble that Silver was not punished enough. He’s safe for now, but how much longer can Silver hang onto power, especially if new information in the Lopez case is revealed?
Tags: Andrew Cuomo, Anthony Weiner, Antonio Reynoso, Barry Grodenchik, Christine Quinn, diana-reyna, Eric Stevenson, Guillermo Linares, Inez Dickens, Jimmy Van Bramer, José Peralta, Leroy Comrie, Melinda Katz, Nelson Castro, Oneida Nation, Peter Vallone Jr., reshma-saujani, Ron LaFrance, Sal Albanese, Seneca Nation, Sheldon Silver, shirley huntley, St. Regis Mohawks, steve-levin, Tony Avella, Vito Lopez