Ah, election season! Campaigns are moving into high gear, the big dollars are flowing, and candidates are pulling out the stops — in one race, even resorting to competing music videos. Of course, it’s too early to tell whether control of the Senate will hinge on the questionable dance moves of campaign staffers, but in the meantime we have this week’s winners, and their unfortunate counterparts, the losers.
Joe Addabbo, Jr. – Sure, he’s neck and neck with New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich in a tough re-election battle. But the state senator this week also landed a coveted endorsement from none other than Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose popularity is sure to provide a boost to Addabbo come Nov. 6. And of course, let’s not overlook the senator’s record-breaking performance (20.5 tons!) at his latest district recycling event.
Mark Grisanti – Remember when Grisanti was the most vulnerable of the GOP senators who voted for same-sex marriage? These days he’s easily the most resilient of the bunch, though he wouldn’t have done as well in the latest poll without a little help from his enemies: Democrats got Charles Swanick into the race, the Working Families Party failed to switch their line to Democratic nominee Michael Amodeo, and a top Cuomo staffer even blasted Amodeo, a fellow Democrat. Now NYSUT has reportedly pulled ads for Amodeo, starting what is likely to be a drying up of funds for Grisanti’s closest competitor.
Melinda Katz – The former councilwoman and comptroller hopeful has already provided the feel-good political love story of the year. Now she’s cashing in her chips in a run for the Queens borough president. She held a campaign kickoff event this week that both Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall attended. Crowley has not yet made an endorsement in the crowded race, which could also include state Sen. Jose Peralta and Council Members Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, but his attendance at Katz’s party is a good sign.
Joanie Mahoney – The Onondoga County executive continues to be lauded for her green initiatives upstate. Last year, the county was designated as one of the country’s top 10 leaders in green infrastructure by the Environmental Protection Agency, thanks in part to Mahoney’s efforts to prevent raw sewage from further polluting Onondoga Lake. This week, Mahoney was placed on Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine’s list of 12 elected officials who “actually get stuff done” for her “Save The Rain” program, which aims to reduce rainwater infiltration into Syracuse’s wastewater collection system.
Dean Skelos – Everyone always expects the Senate Republicans to have more money to spend during campaign season than their Democratic counterparts. But even if he’s not too surprised at his party’s huge cash advantage, the Senate majority leader has to be pleased with the latest campaign figures, which show that the GOP raised $18.46 while the Democrats brought in a paltry $3.5 million. While money isn’t everything, the party’s nearly six-to-one advantage will certainly come in handy over the next few weeks.
Michael Best – Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief counsel was thrown to the wolves this week as he was the administration’s sole representative at a City Council hearing on the NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk policy. With the NYPD absent, Best spent an entire morning fielding tough questions from council members and defending the beleaguered police force, insisting that “they are doing a good job.” To Best’s credit, he answered questions for much longer than he initially promised, bravely facing down grandstanding council members, but he appeared to be in over his head. Sending a legal flack rather than someone more familiar with law enforcement is further evidence of Bloomberg’s dismissive stance on stop and frisk policing and its impact on minorities.
Bob Cohen – When you’re running for state Senate in Westchester, you don’t want to be labeled a Manhattan slumlord. But that’s what the Daily News did when it reported that the city has sued Cohen for allowing several buildings that he owns to fall into disrepair. Tenants have complained about holes in the wall, a mice infestation and broken utilities, and the city isn’t pleased about the rampant drug use and gambling dens that one source called a “numbers hole” that have taken place at one Harlem site. It could be worse, after all. Cohen, whose campaign denies wrongdoing, also has not appeared to have participated in any of the illegal dice games.
Steve Israel – Another case of bad campaign timing. The Post reported that Rep. Steve Israel negotiated a short sale with his bank because his mortgage was higher than the value of hisLong Island home, wiping away $93,000 in mortgage debt. Republicans pounced, and nowIsrael faces tough questions one month before his election. Newsday sympathized with his plight, explaining that many Long Islanders have sought short sales since the housing market regressed, but the deal was still suspect – and at worst, it’s politically brain dead. Message to public officials: negotiate your mortgage at favorable terms after you get re-elected, not while you’re still running for office.
Michael Mulgrew – Union opponents couldn’t have scripted it better: a charter school started in 2005 by the United Federation of Teachers was intended to show that unions weren’t the problem withNew York City’s schools, though it has just earned a “D” grade for performance and an “F” for progress, putting it at risk of being shut down. Mulgrew and school officials defended their charter school, but its potential closure would be a big PR win for critics of the city’s teachers union.
Larry Seabrook – The former Bronx councilman, who was expelled from the Council in July after his conviction for directing city funds towards his mistress and family, got a rude parting gift this week with the news that he had posted the worst attendance record of any council member during the past year. Seabrook missed more than 28 percent of his meetings, mostly because he was defending himself in court. To top it off, the Post reported that he ran up a tab of $4,004 in taxpayer cash on three new computers and an additional $400 on photography services while—get this—waiting to be tried in his federal corruption case. The first step is admitting you have a problem, Larry.