There were no elections this week, but both past and future contests played a role in a number of the latest developments in the political world: Scott Stringer’s jump to the comptroller race bumped Dan Garodnick, the Democrats’ strong performance on the national level has put anti-tax folks like Grover Norquist on the defensive, and some are speculating that all the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the state Senate could very well keep John Sampson in place as minority leader. In sum, as always, there were winners, and there were losers.
Scott Stringer – The Manhattan borough president put aside his dreams of becoming the next mayor of New York City when he announced he would run for comptroller instead. It may seem like a disappointment for the ambitious uptowner, but Stringer can always run for mayor later this decade and he is now emerging as the leading candidate for the citywide post. A chief rival, Councilman Dan Garodnick, quickly bowed out of the race on Monday and backed him, and Councilman Domenic Recchia, another prospective candidate, may look toward a run for Brooklyn borough president instead. Did we mention that Stringer’s wife announced they’re expecting too? Blessings aplenty are being heaped upon the Stringer household.
John Sampson – He probably won’t get a chance to become state Senate majority leader thanks to state Sen. Jeff Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference’s push for a coalition government, but Sampson may just hold onto his minority leader post. Klein met with both Sampson and Majority Leader Dean Skelos this week and said that his conference could share power with Republicans in a coalition government, but did not specify details of his proposed power sharing arrangement. Still, Klein values a good working relationship with Sampson, and he may be hedging his bets with few other Democrats emerging as serious threats to take over the leadership.
Peter King – Term limits forced King to relinquish his House Homeland Security chairmanship but he earned praise in some quarters for being willing to break a pledge against raising taxes and then standing up to tax-activist Grover Norquist, who brought King’s wife into the discussion. Norquist has developed a reputation for being aggressive, but the Long Islander is no pushover either. Their public dispute may signal that the Republican hard line against raising taxes for the wealthy could be fracturing and that they will help keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.
Joe Crowley – The Queens Democratic leader celebrated the victories of Rep. Grace Meng and state Sen. Joe Addabbo earlier this month. This week, he can pop the cork on his own victory since his Democratic colleagues chose him as the caucus’ vice chairman. He lost a bid for the fifth-ranking position to Connecticut Rep. John Larson six years ago but remained a popular leader in Washington and now he’s the only New Yorker serving in the House Democratic leadership.
Reshma Saujani – The public advocate’s race is likely to get more crowded in the months ahead with Councilwoman Letitia James, state Sen. Daniel Squadron and others exploring candidacies, but Saujani has been quietly amassing support and raising a ton of money to go with it. And she’s already lined up an impressive list of celebrity endorsements from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Deepak Chopra, and Kal Penn. The current advocate and her former boss, Bill de Blasio, remains a friend, and Saujani could emerge as a force to be reckoned with deep into the primary campaign.
Andrew Cuomo – While Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the initiative this week to travel down to Washington and lobby for federal disaster money, Cuomo has been evasive on whether he will do the same. His curious absence elicited an open invitation to Washington from Sen. Chuck Schumer, and as the leader of the state, his presence in D.C. should be a no-brainer. We’re sure the governor has a lot on his plate in dealing with the finer details of the storm recovery and we applaud him and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for working collaboratively in calling for storm relief, but instead of shooting for the moon in requesting tens of billions of dollars in aid, Cuomo should be on the frontlines prodding Congress to support his state.
Dan Garodnick – We’re hitting the Manhattan Councilman twice this week. First, Garodnick dropped out of the comptroller’s race, ostensibly to make a run at becoming the next council speaker, a much more hotly contested position. Not only was this a dicey political move—and one that led to accusations of a backroom deal between him and Scott Stringer—but by announcing his intention to run for a third Council term, Garodnick reneged on his pro term-limits position in 2008, when he went against Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn’s push for a third term. Garodnick’s decisions have put him in a position where it will be difficult to be upwardly mobile in the near future. Also, no one likes a hypocrite.
Michael Grimm – The congressman didn’t get to enjoy his re-election victory for too long before the House Ethics Committee announced it would be opening an investigation into Grimm’s fundraising practices on Monday, in conjunction with the Department of Justice. Grimm is accused of exceeding campaign donation limits, as well as allowing a foreign national to donate to his campaign in exchange for assistance in obtaining a green card. While Grimm could conceivably be considered a winner since the committee could not establish with certainty that he committed a violation, when you are under investigation by the DOJ, rest assured they will leave no stone unturned.
Thomas Lopez-Pierre – Lopez-Pierre, a Manhattan City Council candidate and the owner of a singles club in Murray Hill, sent a racially charged email this week calling one of his City Council opponents, Mark Levine, a “White/Jewish candidate” who would “serve the White power elite at the expense of Black and Hispanic communities uptown.” The statement sparked an outcry from political and civil rights leaders, and pushed Lopez-Pierre further to the fringes. He tried to belatedly retreat from his statements by saying that Levine was running for Council only as a “stepping stone” for higher office, but too little, too late. Lopez-Pierre’s campaign may have ended before it started.
Dennis Walcott – Statistics released this week in the Department of Education’s School Report Card shed a negative light on the job that the city’s public schools have been doing to set up students for future success. According to the report, only 44 percent of 2011-12 high school graduates are adequately prepared for college, and that number falls to 29 percent if you isolate high school graduates who finished in four years. Nearly 30 percent of high school graduates have not even enrolled in college. To top it off, 24 high schools face closure due to low performance grades. Like it or not, these numbers are a blow to Walcott and cast a dark cloud over a generally improving public school system. Here’s hoping for a rebound next year.
Tags: Andrew Cuomo, dan-garodnick, Deepak Chopra, Dennis Walcott, Joe Crowley, John Sampson, Kal Penn, mark-levine, Michael Grimm, Peter King, reshma-saujani, Scott Stringer, Thomas Lopez-Pierre, Whoopi Goldberg