It was a dramatic week. From explosive news reports on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Super PAC-ish Committee to Save New York and its relationship to the gambling lobby, to Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s disquisition on weed, to JCOPE commissioner Ravi Batra being carried out of an ethics commission meeting on a gurney, we were almost “windswept” by the amount of news in New York. But we’re also counting down to Congressional primaries and even state Senate races, where endorsements are being handed out and money is being raked in. When all these powers combine, we get some winners and their counterparts, the losers.
Tony Avella – Woody Allen famously said 80 percent of success is just showing up. Who knows if Avella’s perfect attendance record in the Senate has anything to do with the fact that he chalked up the Independence Party’s endorsement this week and seems to be cruising to a surprisingly easy reelection, but it certainly didn’t hurt. By taking seriously the fact that he works on the taxpayers’ dime, Avella deserves a gold star and inspires the question: why can’t his colleagues do the same?
Brad Hoylman — Is it possible that a West Side state Senate seat could be open — and the field will be pretty much clear? It’s not quite certain yet, but Sen. Tom Duane quickly said he was likely to back Brad Hoylman if he runs, and no other definite contenders have yet emerged. It also doesn’t hurt that Duane announced his decision only two days before petitioning began — making mounting any sort of insurgent campaign difficult.
Charles Barron - Even if you buy that Barron’s endorsement on Monday by the longtime incumbent, Ed Towns, was neutralized by Hakeem Jeffries’ starring role in Governor Cuomo’s pro-pot decriminalization press conference, there was still ample reason to conclude that the councilman’s campaign keeps building momentum just when it matters most. After leaving little doubt as to who got the better of their NY1 debate, Barron continued to bruise Jeffries the next day by landing The Amsterdam News’ support. Could this be the start of a Nehru jacket craze in Congress?
Barry Caro — New York Congressional candidate Richard Becker has an uphill battle in a four-way Democratic primary this month, but he’s got a great asset in his dogged press secretary Barry Caro, who sniffed out an incendiary Facebook post written by Jay Townsend, the press man for Rep. Nan Hayworth, in which Townsend recommended hurling acid at female Democratic senators. Caro flagged the post and pushed it until it went viral, ultimately forcing Hayworth to let Townsend go. It’s the kind of moment that catches national attention and could ultimately focus more eyes and dollars on the race, a plus for whichever Democrat ends up staring down Hayworth this fall.
Eric Schneiderman — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been pushing a bill to end prescription drug abuse for a year, and this week as legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced their support for it, there was no doubt who had led the charge. According to its supporters, the new I-Stop program database, if it works, will go far to end doctor shopping and prescription forgeries, frauds that have led increasingly to drug-related crime and deaths from overdoses. It’s a sound victory, and unlike many Albany ideas, it appears to address a real problem with a potent solution.
Phil Ragusa — The Independence Party handed down two endorsements in Queens this week — and they went to two different parties, but neither went to a candidate backed by the Queens Republican chairman. In southeast Queens, the Independence Party backed Ragusa nemesis Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich over primary opponent Juan Reyes, while in northeast Queens, the party backed Democratic Sen. Tony Avella. Neither development bodes well for Ragusa’s candidates running in Democrat-leaning districts.
Andrew Cuomo - It’s not too often that the Governor throws snake eyes, but this week there was no doubt he crapped out. Ordinarily, the news that Cuomo’s quasi-Super PAC, the Committee to Save New York, outraised President Obama’s Priorities USA Action would make the Governor look like a high roller. But with the Times revealing on Monday that over $2 million of that jackpot came from casino interests in the month before Cuomo announced his support for the expansion of gambling in the state, his tall stack of chips looked like the spoils of the same old pay-for-play game in Albany the Governor pledged to shut down.
Steven Duncker – The chairman of the board of the New York Racing Association’s hasn’t had an easy job lately: top management was ousted in scandal, the governor is reconfiguring the board after all the horsing around, and this week NYRA was even at risk of canceling the Belmont Stakes over a union dispute — which would have ended the chance for a rare Triple Crown winner. It’s a safe bet he’s looking forward to relinquishing the chairmanship this fall.
Ken Brynien — The recall election for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker seemed, to unions nationwide, to be a massive bellwether for their futures as political powerhouses. Hence, New York’s labor forces shipped off their ground troops to the Midwestern state, hoping for an outcome different than the one that happened, when Walker was reelected, despite union opposition. It comes at an awkward time for Public Employees Federation president Ken Brynien, who is fending off a challenge for his post from insurgent Sue Kent, whose supporters believe Brynien could have fought harder against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s concession at contract time. If Brynien ends up losing his post, it seems like he’ll be partly a victim of some pretty bad circumstances, and the worst climate for unions in decades.
Jennifer Cunningham – Oh, what a difference a year can make. Applauded for her key behind-the-scenes work passing same-sex marriage a year ago, the top communications operative and Cuomo confidante just couldn’t work the same magic to get Genting a deal to build a massive new convention center next to its racino in Queens. The proposal, a centerpiece of Cuomo’s State of the State address, collapsed in a particularly messy fashion, making it seem that there may be a sophomore slump for Cuomo and Co. after all.
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