We’re all winners and losers this week. Winners, because our state demonstrated again how compassionate and resilient we are in the face of adversity. Losers, for the suffering we have all had to endure, and will continue to grapple with in the days, months and years to come. Of course, not all winners and losers are equal, and this week there were plenty of politicos who made headlines for their triumphs and plenty more who got attention for their tribulations. Whether driving the national conversation or surging in the polls, posting fake reports on Twitter or staring down problems that might be too big to solve, there were those who distinguished themselves as winners, and those that stood out as their unfortunate opposites, the losers.
Michael Bloomberg – Just when it appeared all but certain that the mayor was going to forego backing a candidate for president this cycle, Bloomberg maximized his moment on the national stage and surprised the chattering class by coming out for President Obama’s re-election, just when his endorsement would matter most to the nation’s chief executive. If Bloomberg’s main goal post-mayoralty is to advance the causes he has embraced, then he is certain to have a grateful partner in pushing them if the president is re-elected. And if Romney wins, Bloomberg won’t exactly be in the doghouse, since even out of office he will remain a major opinion leader among the financial juggernauts Romney has depended upon most to fill his campaign coffers.
Chris Christie – Despite all of the halcyon talk about the need for bipartisanship in America there haven’t been too many real world examples in our country to point to as a model. But this week, Gov. Christie, after spending months skewering President Obama as a Romney surrogate, turned around and did the unthinkable: he praised the president for his handling of the storm in a way so genuine and heartfelt that even Obama’s harshest critics were largely unable to dismiss the veracity of Christie’s sentiment. There were some who criticized Christie for being a turncoat, but when it comes time to re-elect their governor, it’s likely that New Jerseyans of all political stripes will remember Christie’s courage.
Andrew Cuomo – Replicating his admirable handing of last year’s Hurricane Irene, the governor once again proved to be a confident and comforting presence amid chaos and hardship. But not only did Cuomo hold the ship of state steady during the storm, when the rains subsided he had the guts to say on the record what so many politicians have been reluctant to discuss, and in so doing may have provoked the national conversation about climate change it is becoming increasingly clear our country needs to have.
Michael Grimm – The congressman announced this week that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the devastation to his district that he was bringing his campaign to a close to concentrate on helping his constituents. If the latest polls are accurate, Grimm has the luxury of making such a magnanimous proclamation. Despite being dogged by allegations of corruption and impropriety for months on end, Grimm just keeps putting more daylight between himself and his challenger, Mark Murphy—18 points now, according to the latest Siena poll. Here’s hoping that Grimm’s gravely affected district bounces back as easily as their congressman.
Bob Turner – It’s not too often that a guy on the verge of being out of a job who loses his home in a terrible fire can accurately be dubbed a winner, but Rep. Turner this week handled his hardships with tremendous class, turning the attention from his personal loss into a call to help others less fortunate than himself. We wish Turner, Mike Long and all of their neighbors in Breezy Point the strength to rebuild, though it’s clear that they already possess the character they need to come back better than ever.
Joseph Lhota – As if the MTA didn’t have enough problems to begin with. Lhota may well be the right man for the job, but it will take a herculean effort to get all of New York City’s critically important subways and commuter rail lines up and running again after the flooding and historic damage brought by Hurricane Sandy. To top it off, the transit system got hammered just as the MTA was starting to find its footing again financially.
Steve McLaughlin – Everybody seems to want to be friends with the ever-popular Gov. Andrew Cuomo lately – even McLaughlin, a Republican assemblyman who once likened the governor to a dictator. McLaughlin, who’s up for re-election, posted a photo on the endorsements page of his campaign web site of Cuomo shaking hands with him – even though the governor has not endorsed him. That’s not the kind of thing that inspires the trust of constituents.
J.C. Polanco – The New York City Board of Elections has a hard enough time running poll sites and counting the votes under normal conditions. Now it’s trying to make sure things run smoothly on Election Day, even though some polling sites are still shut down or without power in the wake of the storm. Polanco, the board’s commissioner, is saying everything will be ready on Tuesday, but the potential for problems could affect the outcome of key races. At least New York isn’t a swing state!
Shashank Tripathi – Congressional candidate Chris Wight’s former campaign manager isn’t looking so smug any more. Tripathi sent a series of false tweets during Hurricane Sandy, claiming that the New York Stock Exchange was flooded and that Con Edison had shut down power to all of Manhattan. Once he was identified, he resigned and posted an apology on his Twitter account, @ComfortablySmug, but the episode undoubtedly hurt whatever chances Wight had against Rep. Carolyn Maloney and raised the possibility of legal action against Tripathi.
Maggie Brooks – The Monroe County executive was expected to be a strong challenger to Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter, thanks to her popularity with voters, and in recent weeks it was starting to look like she had a strong shot at toppling the incumbent. But a new poll out this week showed that Slaughter had extended her lead over Brooks to ten points, up from a five-point gap a couple weeks earlier. That said, the millions of dollars spent on mud-slinging in the race has hurt both women, so there’s a case to be made that they’re both losers.