If President Barack Obama had a stronger connection to New York – apart from his studies at Columbia University years ago – he would undoubtedly have landed on this week’s list. But fear not, for there is no shortage of candidates all across the state trying to hold onto elected office or knock out an incumbent, which gives us plenty of winners, and their unhappy counterparts, the losers.
David Carlucci – The rookie lawmaker took on a real problem – New York has one of the country’s worst organ donation rates – and brought it to life by naming his legislation after a young girl named Lauren who had to go on life support while waiting for a heart transplant. It all added up to a signature victory for Carlucci this week when the governor signed Lauren’s Law, which encourages more New Yorkers to join the state’s donor list.
Kathy Hochul – The Erie County Democrat is facing a tough congressional fight against Republican Chris Collins, but she’s getting a little help from her friends – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Al Gore. She joined both of them and other Democratic leaders at a fundraiser in Manhattan this week, hauled in $730,000 this past quarter, and even got the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. She’s proving herself as a “retail politician,” as Roll Call wrote this week, and that could be enough to secure her another term in office.
Joseph Lhota – As chief of the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Lhota lands on this list more often as a loser than a winner. But a fairly upbeat report from the state comptroller this week found that the authority’s finances are getting better, that ridership is up, and that, despite challenges, there has been real progress. Lhota still must deal with rising fares and tolls and a legal threat to the MTA payroll tax – but in the face of adversity, Lhota at least knows how to “be a man.”
Eric Schneiderman – Perhaps emboldened by tighter regulations on the financial industry, the AG continues to beat up on banking conglomerates with a recent lawsuit filed against JP Morgan Chase. Schneiderman’s suit alleges that Bear Stearns & Company, now under the Chase umbrella, and its lending unit defrauded investors who purchased mortgage securities from 2005 through 2007. Schneiderman is building up a nice reputation as a staunch defender of consumer rights—never a bad thing—but now he has to deliver. Consumer advocates won’t be happy with another settlement.
Jeremy Zellner – Zellner was elected on Saturday to be the chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, defeating his more seasoned rival, Cheektowaga Democratic Chairman Frank Max, Jr. Zellner, a relatively young head honcho at 34, reportedly was aggressive in lobbying fellow committee members, and his courtship paid off with 57 percent of the vote, to Max’s 43 percent. Max plans to challenge Zellner’s victory in court, but with such a wide margin of victory, we’re calling sour grapes.
Bill Thompson – Thompson lost his appeal to void sizeable fines for posting mayoral campaign posters on city property during his unsuccessful mayoral bid in 2009. The former city comptroller will now have to pony up $594,375, potentially putting a dent in his campaign coffers for his current bid for mayor in 2013. Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire, had publicly encouraged Thompson to make good on the fines. Salt in the wound?
Pedro Espada Jr. – The former state senator, who was convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his nonprofit, is apparently a lot to handle. His attorney, Daniel Hochheiser, told a federal judge in court that Espada was being uncooperative and not paying him, and he did not have the time or energy to properly represent Espada in a different tax evasion case. Then he pleaded to be dropped from the case, but the judge refused and then called Espada “difficult” in open court. Now Espada is stuck with a lawyer who doesn’t want to be there and could soon be facing another conviction.
Vito Lopez – Is it possible for Vito Lopez to lay even lower than he has been the past few weeks? Apparently yes. Friends and colleagues are reportedly urging him to skip a special session if it occurs in Albany after the elections because a Lopez appearance has the potential to create a media circus. They’re still telling him to resign from the Legislature, but Lopez is holding firm and refusing to quit. So far he’s spent $150,000 in legal fees to fend off his sexual harassment charges, and there hasn’t even been a trial yet. The good news? Lopez has over $1 million in his Assembly campaign account and his Republican opponent this fall is a 26-year-old temp worker for the Board of Elections who wasn’t even sure he would campaign.
Ted O’Brien – The Democratic candidate to replace state Sen. Jim Alesi had some things go his way this week, including an endorsement from the New York League of Conservation Voters, and an “Oil Slick Award” from the Environmental Advocates of New York for his opponent, GOP Assemblyman Sean Hanna. But that doesn’t change the fact that Hanna holds an 8-point lead over O’Brien in the latest poll. O’Brien’s campaign guaranteed a win anyway in the race, which could help determine control of the Senate.
Tony Arcabascio – The Republican challenger to state Sen. Michael Gianaris was already a long shot to win, but having a former mob boss show up at his campaign fundraiser probably won’t help his odds very much come Election Day. Arcabascio acknowledged that John Gotti Jr. did attend the event, noting that Gotti lives close to the restaurant that hosted the fundraiser, but insisted he had received no support and no campaign contributions from Gotti.