eye on politics
Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin is still fending off questions about whether he will run for mayor in 2005, but he has accumulated a good bit of campaign cash already and has just hired a full-time fundraiser. Both moves indicate he might have something more than an Assembly re-election in mind in the future.
For the record, however, the 50-year-old lawmaker and labor leader is still officially maintaining a wait-and-see position.
"In the past few months, I’ve had calls from a few people asking me if I would want to take on such a major challenge," the 10-year Assembly veteran told us when we asked about a possible 2005 run. He added: "I’m very interested in protecting the interests of the outer boroughs. Let’s see how things shape up as time passes."
We’ve suspected since early January that the Flushing Democrat might be seriously considering a run for mayor. First, while most lawmakers who have just won a sixth term have a perfunctory swearing-in, if any at all, we thought it unusual that McLaughlin’s office sent out notices to quite a few public officials, community and ethnic group leaders advising that Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown was swearing him in.
Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver were listed as hosts of the event. Manton and about two dozen public officials attended, including United States Senator Charles Schumer. Community leaders, friends, supporters, and McLaughlin’s wife and children completed an audience of about 300 guests in a hall on the St. John’s University campus on a cold Sunday morning. Most of the crowd partook of a light breakfast afterward, during which McLaughlin worked the room, chatting with many of the guests.
Several people we spoke with said they had heard that McLaughlin had told some political colleagues privately that he was thinking about running for mayor; others said they thought that with his political background and solid labor backing, the president of the 1.1 million-member New York City Central Trades Council would have a good chance at the office.
About a month later, McLaughlin had scheduled a fundraiser in Electchester in Flushing, where the one-time electrician and electricians union leader has both political and labor roots. Again, Silver and Manton lent their names and prestige to the event, which drew a good turnout. This strengthened our perception that McLaughin was giving the 2005 race serious thought.
Earlier this week, McLaughlin got a good play in a newspaper feature which dubbed him "the anti-Bloomberg" and presented a fairly complimentary picture of him as a possible candidate. This will spur more talk of his possible candidacy and he’ll no doubt be labeled as the "Queens candidate" in a large field of Democrats.
Generally considered as prospective candidates for the Dems are City Council Speaker Clifford Miller, city Comptroller William Thompson, former Public Advocate Mark Green and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, two unsuccessful candidates from the 2001 race. No doubt there will be others, but McLaughlin stands apart from this liberal Manhattan group because of his conservatism and labor support.
At the moment his almost $340,000 campaign treasury puts him ahead of everyone but Miller. Stay tuned!
ISSUE FOR COUNCIL RACES?: All community boards are made up of no more than 50 members, with 25 members appointed for two-year terms every other year. Every year, the terms of 25 members expire.
In the past, many were reappointed by former Borough President Claire Shulman without having to reapply; those not reappointed were replaced by new members appointed by the borough president or a city councilmember.
Generally, half the members are appointed by the borough president and the other half by the councilmember whose district encompasses all or part of a board.
This year, Borough President Helen Marshall has made a change in the routine. She sent out a letter in January to all community board chairpersons, telling them that at the request of the Queens city councilmembers—who have only been in office a little over a year and don’t know the backgrounds of all of the board members who might be up for reappointment—that each board member whose term is expiring and who wants to be reappointed must have completed a new application and remitted it to Marshall’s office no later than February 21.
Appointments will be made by April 1.
Marshall’s change in policy, prompted by city councilmembers who are up for re-election this year, has aroused some concerns that those councilmembers might try to bring pressure on Marshall not to appoint some board members for political reasons.
When asked about the new procedure, Marshall’s spokesman acknowledged, "We know it might upset some people, but we did it because of the request from some councilmembers, and we thought it was a legitimate request because they might not know all the board members."
He also said emphatically that the borough president was in no way interested in bringing political considerations into the appointment of board members.
Needless to say, the change in the appointment procedure this year will add some interest to the announcement on April 1 of who is and isn’t on a given board, and there’s sure to be speculation about why some board members were not reappointed. The issue is sure to spill over into some council campaigns, too, and we’ll be as interested as anyone else as to how this will all play out.
ANNUAL ST. PAT’S PARTY: Every year for the past decade, the Frank Kenna Republican Club in Astoria has thrown a party for its members on St. Patrick’s Day and this year will be no different. The party’s set for this Friday at 8 p.m. at party headquarters, 23-63 Steinway St. There’ll be corned beef and cabbage and other refreshments and music and dancing. Admission is $20. Call Marie Lynch at 718-268-5071 or Raymond Hummel at 718-274-2728 for tickets.
BILL BANS STATE OFFICIALS FROM PUBLIC ADS: Last year, Democrats complained loudly whenever Governor George Pataki, then running for re-election, appeared in ads promoting a state program paid for by public funds. Last week, the Democratic-controlled Assembly passed a bill to ban the practice in the future. It would apply to any statewide elected official, whether during a campaign or not.
Assemblymember Margaret Markey explained: "It is improper for any elected officials in good or bad economic times to be appearing in state-financed ads that can misconstrue the public’s perception of where the state is financially."
GOP BIGS TO VISIT NYC IN JULY: Republicans, who are holding their national convention here next year, will make an advance visit in July. Members of the Republican National Committee will check out hotels, restaurants and other venues during their four-day stay here, dates for which will be announced. A group of about 300 party leaders is expected.
CONSERVATIVES TO MEET: Queens Conservative Party Chairman Thomas M. Long announced his organization will hold its next meeting on Thursday, March 20 at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post 1424, 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills. For information, call Long at 718-474-3826.
GOLISANO TAKES TO AIRWAVES: Upstate millionaire Tom Golisano, who spent $75 million in a run for governor last year that got him only a third-place finish, is reportedly planning a weekly series of commentaries on the radio to keep his name before the public. There could be as many as 20 commentaries a week in the major media markets here and upstate, sources said.