The unusually early June congressional primary came and went this week, as voters selected the candidates who can start hunting for real estate in Washington, D.C., others who will have big-time showdowns in the general election this fall, and still others sent back to languish in Albany, the City Council or places even less politically significant. As always, each race came to a close with plenty who benefitted and plenty who came up short, including this week’s winners and losers.
Chris Collins – When he was voted out of the Erie County executive’s office last fall, some wondered why the Republican Party seemed to be imploding in Western New York – and not a few figured the electoral loss was the death knell for Collins’ political career. Whether he’s fully resurrected himself or he’s just a political zombie who’ll be killed off by the end of this political thriller, Collins is looking alive again with his Republican primary win over David Bellavia and chance to knock off Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Hochul in a solidly Republican district this fall.
Joseph Crowley – After last year’s special election between Bob Turner and David Weprin, we and others pegged Queens Democratic chairman Joe Crowley as the biggest loser of the day after Weprin’s stunning defeat. So it’s only fair that following Tuesday’s congressional primary, we acknowledge that Crowley won huge by selecting Assemblywoman Grace Meng as the party’s pick in the NY-6 race. Some close to Crowley urged him to pick someone potentially safer – such as Councilman Mark Weprin – but Crowley made history by selecting someone who could be the first Asian-American from New York elected to Congress. Now, if Meng can get through a tough general election against Republican Dan Halloran, we have a feeling Joe will be throwing some sort of epic karaoke party in the near future.
Mike Long – The longtime chairman of the state Conservative Party has suffered some defeats and been second-guessed even by members of his own party in recent years, but this week he was vindicated for backing of a little-known lawyer, Wendy Long, in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Though Rep. Bob Turner had become the darling of conservatives after his upset win in a special election last year, Long went with Long (no relation), who won remarkably easily. The Long & Long show won’t have it so easy taking on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand this fall, but there’s at least plenty of time to prepare for the battle.
Charlie Rangel – No amount of drama or trauma has ever been able to take down Charlie Rangel – and it appears that nothing ever will. Whether it be redistricting, sickness or ethical clouds, Rangel has trucked on, defiantly telling everyone in earshot that he’s the only man for his job. Although there’s some question as to whether outstanding ballots could tighten his race with state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, we have a feeling that Rangel will make it through that trial unscathed too.
Peter Ward – Earlier this week, Assemblywoman Grace Meng told us that getting the backing of the Hotel Trades Council was the key to turning around a once-struggling campaign. In fact, after every election people seem to say something similar about the Ward-led operation, from Tom DiNapoli to Michael Bloomberg. But just in case everyone might forget, Meng again praised the HTC’s backing as a major key to her victory during her election night speech. And to top it all off, an HTC-led hotel boycott upstate even began to gain a bit of steam this week, with the Trial Lawyers Association canceling plans to hold their annual convention at the Desmond Hotel.
Charles Barron – All of the sound and fury ended up signifying nothing. If the worst part about the controversial councilman’s election night results had simply been the fact that he lost by 40+ points, he might still have escaped this week’s hall of shame, since, to be fair, Barron was the longest of long shots and Jeffries probably outspent him by more than 10-1. But what really was cause for humiliation was the striking revelation that Barron had no base of support, well, anywhere. Not only did he lose every single Assembly district, including the one represented by his wife, Inez, Barron even lost his own block, getting edged out in his election district 57 to 50. Wow, that hurts.
Ed Cox – When the New York State GOP chair recruited Bob Turner to run for U.S. Senate, he figured the congressman had a better chance of beating Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand than any of the no-name Republican candidates who were already looking to run. But even though Turner was already elected to national office, he couldn’t translate that into a victory in the Republican primary. During the campaign, Cox even got tangled in the fight when he backed Turner’s push to name a wildlife refuge after former Conservative Sen. James Buckley – which political newcomer and eventual winner Wendy Long pegged as a thinly veiled attempt to boost Turner’s campaign.
Rory Lancman – Sometimes it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Well, in this case, it was both the result of his race and the way that he ran it that makes Lancman one of this week’s losers. Not only did Grace Meng gore Lancman by over 20 points, she earned plaudits for her likeability while Lancman came off as, to quote a WNYC report, “self-serving,” “focused on his own self-promotion,” and lacking in “introspection.” One of Lancman’s colleagues even called him “the most hated member of the state Assembly.” On the bright side, come November that characterization won’t be true anymore—because since Rory didn’t run for re-election, he’s out of his job too.
Vito Lopez – The powerful Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman can rest knowing that he punched out an old rival, Rep. Ed Towns, and helped pave the way for Hakeem Jeffries’s victory, but he badly miscalculated challenging Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who trounced Councilman Erik Dilan by a nearly two-to-one margin. Two years is an eternity in politics, but Dilan may be questioning another run in 2014 based on those results. And Velazquez’s progressive allies are smelling blood. Now they’re going after Dilan’s father, state Sen. Martin Dilan, in September, which could force Lopez to spend more resources on what he likely considered a safe seat. But as Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, “Come not between the dragon and his wrath.”
Rabbi David Niederman – The most influential rabbi inWilliamsburg’s Hasidic community tried everything to get his Satmar faction to put Erik Dilan in Congress. He urged residents to vote in columns in Der Yid, the neighborhood’s largest Yiddish language newspaper, sent hundreds of Orthodox Jews to staff the polls during primary day, and even helped convince yeshivas to extend their school year. But he was unable to pull enough votes for Dilan among the Satmar Zalmanite community to counteract Velazquez’s support throughout the congressional district. Niederman remains the top political maven in the Zalmanite community, but politicians who visit South Williamsburg now must also meet with his bitter rivals, the Aronites, whose power continues to grow with each election cycle.
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