Forget the Catskills. The hottest place to head for the summer’s end is the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., rain be damned. And it must have been a convenient escape for New York’s Democrats this week, as the damage from Vito Lopez’s harassment scandal spread to some of the state’s top officials. Amid the lofty speeches and the tabloid cartoons, there were some winners, and their unlucky counterparts, the losers:
Kirsten Gillibrand – With Speaker Shelly Silver weakened in a sex settlement cover-up, Sen. Chuck Schumer on the defensive, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo largely absent from the convention, Sen. Gillibrand has emerged this week as perhaps New York’s most promising representative in Charlotte. We haven’t heard too many calls on the national stage about the likelihood of a future presidential run, but Gillibrand’s Gilli-“brand” is only getting stronger, especially if Cuomo stumbles cleaning up Albany’s mess and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually stays retired from politics like she promises.
Nydia Velazquez – The Brooklyn Democrat is recovering from an ear infection this week as she makes the rounds in Charlotte, perhaps because her ears are still ringing from everyone calling on her arch-rival, Vito Lopez, to resign from the Assembly. Lopez swung at Velazquez during June’s Democratic primary and missed badly when Councilman Erik Dilan lost by a nearly two-to-one margin. Now Velazquez is watching Lopez implode during a self-destructive sexual harassment scandal while her own stature as a power broker in Brooklyn continues to rise. Could a future run as the county’s first Democratic Party chairwoman be far off?
Dan Donovan – The Staten Island DA was appointed to investigate the shocking sexual harassment allegations against Vito Lopez that led to Shelly Silver’s secret payout to the young women involved, a juicy role that gives Donovan a chance to significantly raise his profile.
Ed Cox – New York’s GOP chairman may face uphill battles in recruiting candidates and winning elections in this solidly blue state, but the unfolding Vito Lopez scandal – and the questions swirling about Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations – have given Cox extra ammunition just weeks before the general election. Cox has repeatedly called on Silver to resign, and Republican candidates are jumping on the issue to make the case that they – not the Democrats – are the ones that defend women.
Bill Clinton – So he may be a native of Arkansas, but for more than a decade he’s called New York home, and after Wednesday’s night’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, we’re going to claim him for ours. The former president laid out a point by point case for the re-election of President Barack Obama, re-establishing his role as the figurehead of the Democratic party, and possibly, possibly, paving the way for a run by his wife Hillary for president, or his daughter Chelsea for who knows what.
John Liu – There’s nothing the city comptroller can do to stop the New York Post from photoshopping his head onto the body of a skunk for their running “Pepe le Liu” gag, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt every time they trot it out to demonstrate how alienated he is from the Democratic establishment. The freshest hell is the fact that Liu was denied a delegate seat at the Democratic National Convention. Even Shelly Silver, in the middle of his sexual harassment scandal, got to wax philosophical about the state’s peaks and valleys on C-SPAN. It takes a lot to be too toxic for the New York crowd.
Eric Schneiderman – The state’s attorney general is having some of his signature reform initiatives and his indictment of Sen. Shirley Huntley overshadowed by his office’s proximity to the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. Regardless of the level of involvement the office had in approving the settlement for Vito’s accusers, the specter of complacency is more damaging for one of the state’s most prominent Democrats.
Yvette Clarke – When the great Sam Cooke sang, “Don’t know much about history,” it was charming. When Rep. Clarke proved on “The Colbert Report” that she didn’t know much about American history, it was depressing. Clarke claims now that she was kidding when she asserted that the Dutch(!) were still practicing slavery in Brooklyn in 1898—it was a comedy show, after all—but going to the tape it is clear that the congresswoman was not in on the joke. Even Colbert, whose shtick is to play everything straight-faced, betrayed a moment of shock at Clarke’s ignorance. Looks like Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she reversed Rahm Emanuel’s policy of barring House Democrats from participating in Colbert’s “Better Know A District” series because he didn’t want his members to look ridiculous.
Helen Marshall – Some term-limited politicians use their last hurrah in office to take dynamic action and to speak with a candor they were reluctant to embrace before. Then there’s Helen Marshall, who doesn’t appear to be doing much of anything. The Queens Borough President, 82, has reportedly been spending the summer at her home in Sag Harbor already enjoying a sleepy retirement, even though she will still be collecting a $160,000 paycheck until her job winds down at the end of 2013. While Marshall claims she’s been working from home, political insiders have long griped about the B.P. being M.I.A., and the measly eight public appearances listed on Marshall’s website since June attest to her lackadaisical schedule.
Sheldon Silver – The heat continued to be turned up on Shelly this week, as the Speaker couldn’t even escape Gropezgate (as CapTon likes to call it) in Charlotte. While the calls from Republicans for Silver to step down came as no surprise, the anonymous-sourced Daily News article this week floating a trial balloon for a leadership coup should be cause for the Speaker to be genuinely concerned. Combine that with a Times piece focusing on how GOP candidates are using their opponent’s stance on supporting Silver as a campaign issue, and it becomes clear that this scandal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—which can only be bad news for the Speaker.
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