A lot of ups and downs in the city’s big Congressional races: union endorsements, political club endorsements, cash bonanzas. But not a lot of clear winners and losers. We’ll hold our fire on NY-13 and NY-6 until the candidates stop holding theirs. Until then, here’s a look at who’s up and who’s down in New York politics.
Tom DiNapoli – Conservative critics like to portray State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli as a puppet for big labor, a pawn of the unions that line his campaign coffers. This week, DiNapoli took two important steps to squash those rumors. First, he appointed former Rockefeller Institute deputy director Bob Ward as his deputy for budget policy. Ward is a known budget wonk whose fiscal analysis can run conservative, at least as far as the unions are concerned. Second, DiNapoli released a report that found that even as overtime costs by state workers was trending down, three state agencies were still raking in the lion’s share. Unions like their overtime, but DiNapoli proves that he likes saving taxpayer dollars even more.
Kirsten Gillibrand – Solid poll numbers and a bulging campaign account leave Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sitting pretty while her three Republican rivals duke it out for recognition and cash. Gillibrand’s solid approval rating among voters may be buoyed by the current lack of a visible campaign against her, which will likely change once primary voters chose her opponent in June, but she still has plenty of reasons to smile. And senator? That $23 we found for you? You’re welcome.
Michael Grimm – Those New York Times exposé into the Staten Island pol’s campaign funds? Yesterday’s news. Grimm’s campaign has only been heating up since then, as he’s racked up endorsements from unions, apparently avoided a challenge from former Rep. Mike McMahon and still has a huge cash advantage over the upstart Democratic challenger, Mark Murphy. And this week he landed the Conservative Party nod, which will go nicely with the Independence and Republican party lines come election day.
Danny Hakim – New York Times Albany Bureau Chief Danny Hakim takes home a Batten Medal this week and a $2,500 prize for his series on problems in the state’s care system for the developmentally disabled. The medal is a great honor, but Hakim’s achievement is much larger – in the months since his series was first published, the state has initiated a fundamental change in the way its developmental disabilities programs are run at more than 2,000 state run facilities.
Louise Slaughter – Sure, the congresswoman just broke her leg. But on the national stage, her STOCK Act “broke a leg” too. The law, which bans insider trading by representatives in Congress and other federal officials, was signed into law by President Barack Obama, who gave a shout out to Slaughter since she couldn’t make it in person. The high-profile victory on the legislation, which Slaughter introduced in 2006, is certainly welcome as she faces a strong challenge from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks this fall.
Ellen Biben – Stuck in the middle of the unceasing debate about the Cuomo administration’s transparency, JCOPE director Ellen Biben’s other good works, like a lobbying report she issued last week, are getting lost in the shuffle. The new ethics commission refused a FOIL request to release results of the vote that led to Biben’s hiring, an indication of how opaque the commission’s work may be in the future. For Biben, who made her career demanding more disclosure from former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, the secrecy surrounding her new position is an unwelcome about-face.
Michael Bloomberg – A judge rejected the mayor’s lawsuit challenging the Census figures for the city’s allegedly undercounted population. That’s a blow to the city, but also damages Bloomberg’s vision of New York as a glittering metropolis on the grow. Meanwhile, MTA head honcho Joe Lhota pooh-poohed the mayor’s dream of extending the No. 7 line to New Jersey, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio keyed the mayor’s Taxi of Tomorrow for the automaker’s ties to Iran.
Luis Gonzalez – The judge didn’t deny it when he got caught red-handed hiring his friends and family, including an ex-wife and five relatives. Gonzalez, a top judge for an appellate court in Manhattan and the Bronx, exploited the unusual lack of oversight in his office, failing to post the jobs publicly and having his executive assistant oversee the hiring process. He got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, but an overhaul of judicial hiring practices is on the way.
John Liu – What is John Liu’s campaign team smoking? That’s the rumor going around political circles after several more bizarre incidences this week. First, in the wake of Dan Garodnick’s announcement this week that he was running for comptroller, Liu’s campaign put out a statement essentially that was all good, because Liu was running for mayor – only to immediately deny that was the meaning. Then, Liu went on TV Wednesday night and volunteered that there would likely be “more allegations” about his fundraising scandal in the coming months, and challenged the U.S. attorney to prove his allegations. What a long strange trip it’s become, Mr. Comptroller.
Phil Ragusa – The Post reported yesterday that a Board of Elections official, Stephen Graves, was caught on tape soliciting a “finder’s fee” from a company seeking a BOE contract, leading to Graves’ suspension. That doesn’t reflect well on Ragusa, chairman of the Queens Republican Party, not only because Graves is a top Queens GOP official, but because the BOE job was no doubt doled out through party patronage. The news gave a Ragusa nemesis, Councilman Eric Ulrich, a chance to call for a boycott of an upcoming Queens GOP dinner. And Ragusa’s week was made even worse by the failure of his favored congressional candidate, Dan Halloran, to land the key Independence Party nod.
Trackback from your site.