You’ve fanatically opened up First Read each Friday to find out our picks for winners and losers of the week. Taking all 52 weeks into consideration, who were the crème de la crème and the bottom of the barrel? With 2012 drawing to a close, we offer a special extended edition of Winners & Losers to share our nominees for the biggest winners and losers of the year.
Preet Bharara – If anyone can clean up New York politics, it’s the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. This year Bharara’s office brought to justice former state senators Carl Kruger, Hiram Monserrate and Nick Spano, plus former city councilman Larry Seabrook, former Yonkers councilwoman Sandy Annabi and lobbyist Richard Lipsky.
Andrew Cuomo – The governor hasn’t won every battle—remember that convention center plan in Queens?—but he’s winning the war. He performed ably in responding to Superstorm Sandy, he got a new pension tier passed, his budget was on time for a second year and his approval ratings remain sky-high.
Kirsten Gillibrand – The state’s junior senator has come into her own. While Wendy Long didn’t offer much of a challenge at the polls, Gillibrand’s record re-election victory in November was striking and kept the buzz building for the senator’s future possibilities, which at this point seem limitless.
Mark Grisanti – Alesi didn’t even run. McDonald lost. Saland conceded defeat. And with Grisanti looking the most vulnerable of the four GOP senators who voted for marriage equality, a three-way primary against a Conservative and a Democrat helped the Buffalo senator. Even a scuffle at an Indian casino couldn’t stop Grisanti, who cruised to victory by 14 points.
Hakeem Jeffries – The new congressman from Brooklyn had been hyped as the Next Big Thing, and this year he delivered. His strong candidacy prompted veteran Rep. Ed Towns to step aside, and Jeffries’ primary race against Councilman Charles Barron ended up being a cakewalk.
Jeff Klein – The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference has deftly maneuvered himself into becoming the fourth man in the room—though he’ll have to share power with the Republicans, and questions remain as to how effective the “Skleinos” power-sharing arrangement will be.
Sean Patrick Maloney – The rookie congressman is heading down to D.C. after toppling Nan Hayworth. Less than two months before the election Maloney was down from his Republican opponent by double digits but charged ahead in the closing weeks to oust the incumbent and in so doing become New York’s first openly gay congressman.
Stephanie Miner – The mayor of Syracuse has plenty of troubles as her city struggles to get its finances in order, but she got a big boost when the governor plucked her from relative obscurity and made her co-chair of the state Democrats. Now if Cuomo can only help her get some real mandate relief…
Eric Schneiderman – The state’s attorney general was named to head the president’s mortgage fraud panel even though he stood up to the Obama administration in calling for better terms in a mortgage settlement. Plus, his landmark I-STOP law to fight prescription drug abuse passed unanimously.
Dean Skelos – The Senate majority leader—make that temporary president—lost some power, but he’s played the hand he was dealt expertly. Though Democratic voters outnumber Republicans two-to-one, Skelos got his redistricting plan through and recovered from bruising election losses in November.
Ed Cox – The chair of the state GOP swears his party is doing well, but except for the state Senate, he has a hard case to make. Wendy Long was trounced, the congressional delegation lost ground, the Assembly’s Democratic majority grew, and few think a Republican can become mayor of New York City next year.
Pedro Espada – The black magic must have worked. The former state senator was convicted this spring of stealing thousands of dollars from his nonprofit health system. Then he was accused of looting the nonprofit again. Finally, he and his son ended the sordid saga by pleading guilty to tax charges this fall.
Michael Hervey – Some public figures have been praised for their response to Superstorm Sandy, but that certainly didn’t happen in the case of the former LIPA CEO. And when Hervey abruptly quit, he didn’t even take accountability for his failure, claiming his departure has already been in the works. Heck of a job, Hervey.
Charles Hynes – The Brooklyn district attorney was the subject of a bombshell Times exposé making the case that he allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews to let rabbis decide if child abuse allegations should be reported to the authorities. The mayor called him out, and Hynes could now face stiff re-election challenges.
Ray Kelly – Controversy around the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy heated up this year, and the Associated Press kept digging up stories about the police department’s surveillance of Muslims—as well Kelly’s appearance, which he initially denied, in a radical anti-Muslim video shown to police trainees.
Carl Kruger – The former state senator wasn’t just sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in a wide-ranging bribery scheme. He was a blubbering mess in court, his defense included a self-pitying rationale for his misdeeds, and his intimate relationship with a male companion involved in the scheme was exposed to the public at large.
John Liu – The city comptroller hasn’t been caught doing anything wrong, but an investigation into his fundraising has already led to charges against his treasurer and a campaign donor. Liu has so far stayed in the mayor’s race, but he’s trailing in the polls and would now face a tough re-election fight if he drops down.
Vito Lopez – The thigh’s the limit. The once-powerful assemblyman was long suspected of misusing taxpayer dollars at a nonprofit he founded, but his downfall came with allegations he had sexually harassed his staffers. Lopez lost his committee chairmanship and resigned as head of the Brooklyn Dems—and he’s still under investigation.
New York City Board of Elections – The city’s election board was once again blasted for incompetence when it botched the Espaillat-Rangel race this summer. Then came Superstorm Sandy, which combined with huge turnout and lack of preparation to force some New Yorkers to wait for hours to cast their ballots.
Shelly Silver – The Assembly speaker did expand his already impressive majority, but the revelation that he had made a secret payment to keep the Vito Lopez scandal quiet made him more vulnerable than he has been in years. Plus, his push for a minimum wage hike didn’t make it through the Legislature.
Tags: Andrew Cuomo, Carl Kruger, Charles Hynes, Dean Skelos, Ed Cox, Eric Schneiderman, Hakeem Jeffries, Jeff Klein, John Liu, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mark Grisanti, Michael Hervey, new york city board of election, Pedro Espada, Preet Bharara, Ray Kelly, Sean Patrick Maloney, Shelly Silver, Stephanie Miner, Vito Lopez