It’s hard to brand anyone a loser in a week when the political was also so personal, as President Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage Wednesday. And so, we tip our hats to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblyman Dan O’Donnell and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, pols whose pending and recent marriages will have the tacit blessing of the nation’s head. Kudos too to the New York senators who voted in favor of passing marriage, an action Obama says spurred his own “evolution” on the issue. Who says Albany legislators don’t have any clout? But brief moments of self-congratulation were overtaken by the grim realities of the stump, and so by Thursday we were back to parsing the polls, pundits and policy that leave some winners and the inevitable losers. Here’s your list of who’s up and who’s down in New York city and state politics.
Andrew Cuomo — Smooth as ever, showing off the Albany nanotech center, helping influence President Obama’s change-of-heart on gay marriage, not taking credit for it, et cetera. The governor may have a peculiar habit of describing his actions as historic but this week he really deserved to spike the football, as Obama admitted New York’s vote on the marriage bill was part of his decision to come out in favor of it. The governor really made it look effortless this week, and as he nears the end of his second session as governor, he’s riding so high he’s out of the gubernatorial atmospheric level on a perma-path to presidential contender.
Adriano Espaillat – The state senator is still taking on a political icon, but a number of things are going his way in his effort to oust longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel from office: Freddy Ferrer’s endorsement provided a key boost from an influential Puerto Rican voice that could broaden the Dominican candidate’s appeal with other Latinos, a PAC signed on to support Espaillat’s campaign, and various key figures – the mayor, the governor, the president, other representatives in Congress – are not exactly tripping over each other to support the incumbent.
Vito Lopez – A battle for summer camp permits might seem like kid stuff, but when the antagonists are Zalman and Aaron Teitelbaum, the Cain and Abel of the Satmar Hasidic sect, the stakes are high. Both sides brought out their biggest guns, with Nydia Velazquez repping the Aaronites in the dispute and Vito Lopez going so far as to meet personally with Ulster County Executive Michael Hein to press the Zalmanites’ case. When Hein granted the permits to Zalman this week, he didn’t just roast Aaron’s marshmellows, he also firmed up Vito’s control over the commanding bloc of votes he controls in Williamsburg courtesy of his favorite camp counselor.
Bill Thompson –Two weeks ago, Bill Thompson was headlining a hot-tub party in Williamsburg, and now he’s number two among the Dems in a 2013 mayoral Quinnipiac poll, quit his job at Battery Park Authority to focus full time on Gracie Mansion, and shoring up support with Orthodox Jewish voters. We were wondering when Bill Thompson was really going to show up for the mayoral race, still many months away but being run in earnest by a wide field of serious candidates. Looks like the fellow we all remember from 2009 for his heated pursuit of Mayor Bloomberg is back.
Preet Bharara — In a week when Bharara was named as a rising star in the New York Times’ “Powers of New York” list, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District proved beyond of a shadow of a doubt why he deserves the honor. Last Friday, he got Hiram Monserrate to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and mail fraud and on Wednesday, he locked away former Brookdale University Hospital CEO David Rosen for three years, as part of the same investigation in which Bharara brought down Carl Kruger and lobbyist Richard Lipsky. Is there anyone in Albany who doesn’t fear this man?
Ed Cox — The New York State Republican Party chairman can’t find a Republican to run for mayor of New York City. It’s just as plain as that. In this week’s Q-poll, New Yorkers said they liked Mr. Kelly as Police Commissioner, not as mayor, and the only other semi-willing body is John Catsimatidis, the supermarket magnate who would really much rather Ray Kelly ran. It’s just slim pickings out there.
Douglas Durst – With its redesigned mast, not only does it appear that Durst’s Freedom Tower won’t reach the symbolic height of 1,776 feet, 1 World Trade Center will now likely end up as only the third tallest building in the U.S., trumped by, well, a Trump building and the Willis (formerly Sears) tower. Looks like NYC will have to keep bowing to Chicago as the country’s skyscraper capital for the foreseeable future.
Jim Alesi – Maybe he could have been re-elected if the only thing he had to explain to voters was his vote for same-sex marriage, a challenge that the other three Republican state senators to back the measure may yet overcome. But an ill-advised lawsuit, which he filed against his own constituents after injuring himself while trespassing on their property, was boneheaded enough to be basically unforgettable, and has sealed, for now, the end of his Senate career. He announced this week that he won’t be running for re-election.
Joe Lhota – Lhota took over as MTA chief with the goal of improving the transit authority’s tarnished reputation – but more delays, this time for the East Side Access project, won’t do much in the polishing department, even if there’s not much Lhota can actually do to fix the delay. Getting it done in 2015, which was the original plan, already required patience for frustrated commuters, but now it won’t get done until 2019. Quick Joe! Throw us some more countdown clocks or something, lest the commuters revolt!
Ajit Manocha – The GlobalFoundries CEO did get to share the spotlight with Obama when he came to New York this week, but that’s cold comfort after getting dumped from the president’s original schedule. The official reason is that it was easier to get to the College of Nanoscale Scienceand Engineering in Albany than to Malta, the home of the GlobalFoundries microchip plant, but it couldn’t help Manocha’s case that the company has Abu Dhabi as an investor and has been the beneficiary of lots of tax credits. On the flip side, Obama’s been to Albany so much that he’ll have to find new places to tour. Better luck next time Ajit!
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