Winners and Losers 06.27.14
Winners and Losers 06.27.14
Usually the week after the end of session is a time for lawmakers to head out of town and journalists to get some much needed rest. Alas, this was not one of those weeks as heated primaries and a state senate deal kept reporters and political observers buzzing. With so much going on, we couldn't keep our picks to just five winners and losers, so there are seven candidates on each side for you to choose from. Here's another chance to vote:
Bill de Blasio - What was perhaps lost in the news of the IDC-Senate Dems coalition was that de Blasio was a key player at the table helping arrange this deal. Ever since the City Council Speaker’s race, when it was evident that the mayor feels—in the words of Joe Crowley—“comfortable in the back room,” de Blasio has lived up to that distinction. He brokered the peace treaty between the Working Families Party and Gov. Cuomo, and this week helped rearrange the Senate deck chairs in a way that could greatly improve his chances of getting Albany’s cooperation on progressive legislation, such as his desired minimum wage hike.
Andrea Stewart-Cousins - It doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "majority leader," but "co-leader" probably sounds a lot better than "minority leader." If a new coalition is indeed formed between her Senate Democratic Conference and the Independent Democratic Conference, and if Republicans fail to win an outright majority, Stewart-Cousins is poised to serve as co-leader alongside Jeff Klein. Stalled legislation, such as the Dream Act, campaign finance reform and the Women’s Equality Agenda, would likely have far better luck with a Democratic majority—which would potentially free up Stewart-Cousins’ schedule if she no longer had to attend countless WEA press conferences toward the end of session.
Jill Furillo and George Gresham - It looks like hospital workers and nurses are going to get retroactive raises—just like teachers did earlier this month—after de Blasio struck a tentative deal with the State Nurses Association and 1199 this week. With fiscal concerns still floating around, it's always good to be among the first groups to lock down new contracts. So Furillo and Gresham, the leaders of their respective unions, are sitting pretty this week. Plus, for Gresham, he can also claim victory for his union's role in getting Rep. Charlie Rangel reelected and the IDC to the table.
Jeff Klein - Klein was the man of the hour after he decided to take his Independent Democratic Conference and form a new majority coalition with the larger state Senate Democratic Conference—or at least try to—after the election in November. Klein will maintain his role as Senate co-leader in the new coalition, a long standing sticking point for him in any talks of reunification. To sweeten the deal for Klein, his challenger, former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell, is likely to lose support from Democrats and unions, who had been pressuring Klein and other IDC members to drop their partnership with the Senate GOP.
Neal Kwatra - The founder & CEO of Metropolitan Public Strategies scored big wins both in public and behind closed doors this week. His consulting firm orchestrated the strategy, messaging and communications for Charlie Rangel’s successful reelection campaign—arguably the closest watched House primary in the nation and a race many thought Rangel would lose. At the same time, Kwatra, who the governor tapped in April to be the state Democratic Party’s chief campaign consultant, was using his deep connections with labor, including his client, the Hotel Trades Council, to quietly play a key role in pulling off another surprising victory: reuniting the IDC with the mainline Senate Dems.
Charles Rangel - The lion roars once more! Two years ago, Rangel’s political shelf life looked to be reaching its expiration date, as he barely eked out a victory over Adriano Espaillat. However, in this year’s rematch, Rangel proved that his name and reputation not only still carries significant weight with his central and west Harlem base, but that he also he still had enough crossover appeal in areas like east Harlem to seal his victory. With Espaillat conceding defeat, the only remaining question is whether Charlie will keep his word and bow out gracefully after this term.
Lee Zeldin - The state senator’s decision to run for Congress is a loss for his Republican colleagues in Albany, who now will have to fight to hold onto his seat. But the move could very well lead to a big win for Zeldin on the national level, especially after his convincing victory over the well-funded George Demos in this week’s primary. He’ll now take on Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, a top target for the GOP, in a rematch of 2008. Bishop has shown a remarkable ability to fend off challengers, but he’ll face a battle-tested foe in Zeldin.
Matt Doheny - Third time’s a charm, as the saying goes, but not in Matt Doheny's case. The Republican congressional candidate came up short again in his efforts to win Rep. Bill Owens’ seat—he lost to the incumbent in 2010 and 2012—and this time he didn’t even get out of the primary. Doheny jumped into the race relatively late, losing ground to newcomer Elise Stefanik, who trounced him on Tuesday. Doheny does still have the Independence Party line, but he stays on as a third-party candidate there’s a chance that a crowded general election could tip the race to the Democratic candidate.
Adriano Espaillat - Playing the ethnicity card in campaign politics is a double-edged sword, and by touting his Dominican roots constantly during the campaign, Espaillat gave short shrift to the crucial black and Puerto Rican portions of the district, sealing his fate as runner-up. Espaillat is now 0 for 2 in challenging Rangel—this despite all the bluster about the shifting demographics of upper Manhattan—and perhaps he has his lightweight legislative record to thank. Though perhaps he will sail into the House in two years, it's doubtful, as a lot of new hopefuls will be coveting the seat. Plus, he first has to fend off another Harlemite, former Councilman Robert Jackson, who threw his hat in the ring this week to knock Espaillat out of the state Senate.
Michael Grimm - The hits keep coming for the Staten Island Republican. The House Ethics Committee announced this week that it is going to hold off on investigating him for threatening Time Warner Cable News reporter Michael Scotto—which you'd think was a good thing—except that the panel usually only makes this move when it is asked to do so by the Department of Justice because a larger investigation is underway. To make things worse, Grimm's ex-girlfriend, Diana Durand, who has refused to coorperate so far with the Feds despite being hit with criminal charges for allegedly contributing over $100,000 to Grimm's 2010 campaign through straw donors, now is reportedly in talks to cop a plea, presumably for spilling the beans on Grimm.
Oliver Koppell and John Liu - Liu and Koppell were left looking like Tweedledee and Tweedledum this week when a Democrat-Independent Democratic Conference reconciliation undercut their efforts to knock out IDC state senators. Liu, the hard-working former city comptroller, may continue his run against state Sen. Tony Avella, even if he loses key support, but the announced deal is a big blow to his bid for redemption after years of being dogged by accusations surrounding his past fundraising. Koppell, however, has said he is reconsidering his challenge of state Sen. Jeff Klein, which was always a possibility. As if that weren’t a big enough distraction for Koppell’s campaign, he also had to confront questions about anti-Israel and anti-Cuomo online posts from his campaign manager, who was promptly fired.
Sean Patrick Maloney - In his campaign against Nan Hayworth two years ago, Maloney hammered away with the message that Hayworth was a Tea Party extremist. The Democrat also managed to get Hayworth thrown off the Independence Party line. Two years later he is singing the same old tune, but come November Hayworth can now counter that argument by touting herself as the Independence Party candidate after defeating Maloney in a primary for the line this week. It will probably only make a small difference in the race, but in a close battle ground like NY-18 a small difference could wind up decisive.
Dean Skelos - Whether it’s just the heat of campaign season or something more substantial, the Senate Republican leader found himself suddenly amid a messy divorce this week when his coalition partner, the IDC’s Jeff Klein, announced that he would be getting back together with his old flame, the Senate Democrats. Skelos blamed the split on his partner’s friends—the meddling Bill de Blasio and those troublesome Working Families Party kids—while suggesting that he and Klein could still iron things out. But Klein was clear: it simply comes down to irreconcilable differences.
Melissa Mark-Viverito - In her first real test as a vote mover, Mark-Viverito failed to deliver for Adriano Espaillat in her own backyard. In fact, Espaillat got crushed in embarrassing fashion in Mark-Viverito’s east Harlem district, with Charlie Rangel winning all but five precincts. Mark-Viverito likely felt some obligation to thrust herself into this campaign as the most prominent Hispanic elected official in the city, but she bet big on the wrong horse, and now has to mend fences with Rangel for the next two years. Mark-Viverito gets criticized for being too close to Mayor de Blasio, but in this case she should have followed the mayor’s lead and sat this race out.