Winners and Losers 09/12/14

Winners and Losers 09/12/14

Winners and Losers
September 11, 2014

No one had a more frustrating election night than NY1's Michael Herzenberg, who spent the evening trying to track down the elusive Andrew Cuomo, traveling from the governor's Midtown office to Cuomo's home in Westchester County just so he could stand in front of the buildings and tell the station's viewers that no one knew where the governor was. While this exercise made for boring television, there were a lot of exciting races around the state, so we have expanded our usual number of weekly Winners and Losers picks. Hey Dems, don't worry if you were among the 90+ percent of your fellow party members who didn't bother to come out to the polls. Thanks to City & State you have another chance to vote!

 

WINNERS

Andrew Cuomo - Zephyr Teachout may have received 34 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, but an embarrassing win is still a win. Cuomo now moves on the general election against Rob Astorino and it’s hard to imagine any scenario, barring an October surprise from Preet Bharara, in which the governor is not reelected by a large margin.

Tim Kennedy - Two years ago, Betty Jean Grant, the Erie County Legislature Minority Leader, took a shot at Tim Kennedy’s seat in the state Senate and just about won. So this cycle she thought she’d take a second try, in a race that mixed race and class and economic development into an unhealthy stew. But this time around, Kennedy beat Grant so handily, it’s hard to believe that she—or perhaps anyone else for that matter—will have the gumption or the support to take him on again any time soon.

Jeff Klein - I-D-C! I-D-C! Klein and his Senate IDC cohorts have mastered the art of self-preservation, pivoting from a coalition leadership with Senate Republicans to a coalition leadership with Senate Democrats in the blink of an eye, and swiftly changing both Klein’s and colleague Tony Avella’s re-election chances as a result. Sure enough both Klein and Avella cruised to victory, with Klein remaining defiant as ever that the IDC is responsible for “making government work.” He’ll have every chance to prove that’s the case if Senate Dems hold up their end of the bargain and hang on to their slim majority in November.

Tom Libous - Battling cancer and a criminal indictment, the veteran Republican was still able to win his primary race against challenger Denver Jones—and win it big, with about 60 percent of the vote. That being said, the State Senate deputy majority leader does have a Democratic challenger and the Southern Tier district is not overly Republican-leaning, so Libous is not out of the woods yet.

Terry and Kim Pegula – Gov. Cuomo already wants to build a statue of Terry Pegula. As Ralph Wilson’s heirs have been shopping around for new owners of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo residents have been terrified at the prospect that the football team might pack up and move somewhere else. But Terry Pegula, the natural gas multi-billionaire and owner of the Buffalo Sabres, closed a deal this week to buy the Bills for $1.4 bil and promised to keep the team in Buffalo, much to the relief and appreciation of every New York pol. Stick that in your six-string, Bon Jovi.

John Sampson - Not even two indictments in two years and a looming federal trial on embezzlement charges could stop Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson from winning Tuesday’s primary and likely another term in office. He crushed his most serious rival, Dell Smitherman, who had the backing of both Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, and proved either that the voters in his district were willing to believe that Sampson is innocent until proven guilty, or that the majority of them cast their ballots purely based on name recognition and had no idea he was in trouble.

Frank Seddio – Here’s Brooklyn Democratic boss, Frank Seddio, speaking about the union “1199 and people like that” at John Sampson’s victory party on primary night: “Some guy come into my house, uninvited, takes a crap in my bathroom and I have to hand them the toilet paper?” We’re not sure if that metaphor holds up from a literary standpoint, but it’s meaning was clear. Seddio pushed back hard at Mayor de Blasio, Gov. Cuomo, the unions and anyone else who dared to try to muscle into his territory, and scored a win that would have made even Don Vito proud. It takes some canolis to shamelessly go all out to reelect a twice-indicted pol, but Seddio proved he’s a worthy successor to the proud legacy of Meade Esposito and Clarence Norman.

Zephyr Teachout – Despite being an unknown, unfunded candidate, Teachout certainly succeeded in making Gov. Cuomo look bad, even though she didn’t win. Who would have ever though Teachout would come out on top in more than 30 counties, including Albany, and wind up only 19 votes shy of the governor in his own hometown? As her running mate Tim Wu said, one wonders what they could have accomplished if they were more organized and better funded?

 

LOSERS

William Barclay - Instead of just taking his adversary to court like Cuomo did, Barclay, the head of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, decided to secretly put a GPS tracking device on the car of Long Island assemblyman Ed Hennessey to make sure he lived in his district. While not illegal, it certainly makes even the most cynical political observer a little squeamish. Even better, after the story broke Barclay defended the questionable tactic, warning the Assembly Dems to “very careful before they opine on proper political behavior.”

Bill de Blasio - It was a mixed bag for the mayor’s first primary season. In short, his safe endorsements fared predictably well, while in the races that were more wide open, his picks, such as Assembly candidate Peter Sikora and Senate candidates Rubain Dorancy and Dell Smitherman, fell short. Granted, the mayor’s coattails are not as strong as they could be a mere 8 months into his first term, but with Dorancy and Smitherman, especially, it was man vs. machine, and the Brooklyn Democratic Party proved that the latter is still a force in the mayor’s home borough.

Joe Crowley - That Queens Democratic machine ain’t what it used to be. Coming off of a tough (and close) loss in the City Council speaker’s race, where he backed Dan Garodnick over Melissa Mark-Viverito, Crowley was hoping that hitching his wagon to John Liu’s Senate candidacy was the recipe to return the Queens Democratic Party back to prominence. Tony Avella was perhaps the weakest downstate incumbent in the Senate, yet Crowley and Liu still fell short in toppling him, raising the question of whether Crowley’s endorsement is a help or hindrance during election season.

Mark Grisanti – No one saw this one coming. The news of incumbent state Sen. Mark Grisanti’s primary loss to conservative attorney Kevin Stocker shocked everyone who pays attention to Western New York politics, except, perhaps, New York State United Teachers, which spent almost $300,000 in radio ads and snail mailers eviscerating Grisanti. Of course, the union doesn’t want Stocker to win in November; in fact, it spent the cash precisely to set up Stocker, whom they regard as the weaker candidate, for a mismatch against Democratic favorite son Marc Panepinto. But Grisanti’s whose blood flows into the gutters this week.

John Liu - It's hard to see where the former New York City Comptroller goes from here. Despite a fundraising edge and the backing of the Queens Democratic machine, it appears he is going to fall short in his bid to unseat state Sen. Tony Avella. Still, it's hard to believe we have heard the last from John Liu.

Melvin Lowe- What a Lowe down dirty shame! On the very same day John Sampson proved how forgiving (or stupid) voters are by winning reelection despite being under double indictment, his pal Lowe was convicted of conspiring with Sampson to steal $100,000 from the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, among other charges. Now Lowe is staring down up to 82 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Will Lowe flip on Sampson for leniency? If so, Sampson’s triumph could be short-lived.

Carlos Menchaca – The freshman New York City councilman tested his political might by backing Caesar Zuniga’s challenge to incumbent Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. That gambit didn’t turn out so well. Zuniga didn’t just lose, he got thrashed, and the jubilant crowd at Ortiz’s victory party was only too happy to ridicule Menchaca for going out on a limb and falling. Now Ortiz has three years to plot a primary challenge to Menchaca, and every incentive to make sure it is a far more formidable effort than the one Zuniga was able to muster.

Malcolm Smith - Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith was not as lucky as his fellow indicted pols, Sen. John Sampson or Sen. Tom Libous. Smith has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to bribe his way onto the GOP line in the 2013 mayoral race and faces an upcoming trial in January, which played a prominent role in his loss to former City Councilman Leroy Comrie on Tuesday. Some might say Smith has it easier than Sampson though—at least he’s got a clear schedule ahead of his trial.

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