Maloney Backed By 2 Women's Groups For Hillary's Senate Post
One feminist group, the National Organization for Women, placed Maloney at the top of their list for the Senate vacancy in their appeal to Governor David Paterson, who alone will choose Clinton's successor, after she moves into her new post as Secretary of State in the Obama cabinet.
The second women's group urging Paterson to choose Maloney was the Feminist Majority, whose president, Eleanor Smeal, called Maloney "an effective legislator who never takes no for an answer when it comes to fighting for women of the world or the citizens of New York".
Maloney (D- Queens/Brooklyn) has risen steadily in the ranks since coming to Congress and presently is co-chair of the powerful Joint Economic Committee, which Senator Charles Schumer heads. Her close work with Schumer on various aspects of the nation's economy, could help in her getting the Senate job since Schumer is expected to be consulted by Paterson in choosing Clinton's replacement.
Other women being mentioned as possible replacements for Clinton are Congressmember Nydia Velazquez (D- Brooklyn/Manhattan) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D- Saratoga). Maloney supporters point out that Maloney might have an edge on Velazquez or Gillibrand because she would be a stronger candidate in 2010 when Clinton's replacement must run to fill out the last two years of the former First Lady's term. Having a strong candidate running would be important, especially if a powerful Republican like Rudy Giuliani becomes a Senate candidate.
Two other possible women candidates have also joined the ever-growing list of would-be Clinton replacements—Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, and Randi Weingarten, longtime president of the powerful United Federation of Teachers labor union.
Neither of the pair has any direct political experience such as holding a legislative position. But both have been very close to the political arena, Kennedy by merely carrying such a highly recognizable name and Weingarten as leader of a huge labor organization which has helped candidates in many campaigns, and as a lobbyist trying to win benefits from legislators for her members.
Paterson acknowledged that Sunday evening he discussed both of the new entrants with an unofficial advisory board that consists of Senator Schumer and Congressmembers Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks and Nita
In another new development, Maloney announced that she had hired a political consulting firm headed by Bill Lynch, a sometime advisor to Paterson and one-time chief political aide to former Mayor David Dinkins.
Meanwhile, the strongest possible Clinton replacement from a list of 20 possibilities continues to be New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Although Cuomo reportedly is not seeking the post, several pundits say he might be open to taking it since no other attractive jobs seem to be available to him. He used to be considered gubernatorial timber, but since Paterson stepped in to replace Eliot Spitzer and has made it known that he'll seek a full four-year term in 2010, Cuomo reportedly has lost interest because he doesn't want to challenge Paterson.
Also, Paterson is the reason cited by many who think Cuomo will eventually wind up as the next United States Senator from New York State. The thinking is that Paterson will offer Cuomo the seat to remove him from contention and make sure that Cuomo doesn't change his mind and decide to make a run for governor.
RUDY FOR GOVERNOR: Speaking of Giuliani as a possible U.S. Senate candidate in 2010 thus forcing Paterson to tailor his choice of a Clinton successor to be a strong challenger to him, the current issue of Crain's New York Business reports that the former New York City mayor's supporters are circulating an e-mail promoting Rudy as a candidate for governor in 2010.
SENATE DEMS IN LEADERSHIP DEAL: Democratic control over the state senate for the first time in 44 years has finally come to pass under a deal worked out by Democratic Minority Leader Malcolm Smith and three renegade Dem senators who delayed implementation of the victories scored by the Democrats in the November 4 elections five weeks ago.
The compromise was worked out at a Manhattan meeting attended by Smith, the three renegade Dems, Governor David Paterson and Congressmember Gregory Meeks (D- Southeast Queens).
Under the deal, Smith will become the senate president pro tempore, a constitutional office that makes him the senate's top leader. One of the three recalcitrant Democrats, Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. (The Bronx) will become the majority leader and vice chair of the all -powerful Rules Committee, which must approve all legislation to go through the senate. The move will also make Espada the most important Hispanic official in the state, an important goal of the three holdout Democrats.
Also under the deal, Senator Carl Kruger, of Brooklyn, who has always been close to the Republican majority, will become chair of the influential Finance Committee.
The second Hispanic Democratic senator in the holdout trio, Senator Ruben Diaz Jr., also of The Bronx, will become chair of the Committee on Aging.
Certain rules reforms will also be made as part of the agreement. The new arrangement is to be formally voted upon by the full senate in January.
In order to win their demands, Espada, Kruger and Diaz had threatened to vote with the Republicans in organizing the senate, which would have let the GOP continue as the majority party.
BATTLE OVER PADAVAN/GENNARO CONTINUES: The latest development in the continuing controversial recount of absentee and paper ballots cast in the disputed November 4 election battle between incumbent state Senator Frank Padavan, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Councilmember James Gennaro, a hearing will be held today in Jamaica Supreme Court on a motion filed by Democratic Party officials which alleges that about 2,000 ballots were not counted.
Queens Republican leader Phil Ragusa, commenting on the court action, said in a statement that the Democrats were engaging in "senseless legal wrangling and attempts to count improper ballots already invalidated" by the Board of Elections.
Democratic organization Executive Secretary Michael Reich, who brought the motion, responded, "He doesn't know what he's talking about."
Referring to the 2,000 ballots in question, explained Reich, "These ballots were never counted. Clerks at the board preliminarily invalidated them and threw them aside and they were never included in the count. The counters never looked at them."
Reich said the ballots in question were submitted on Election Day by new registrants and poll officials mistakenly said they were not qualified to vote.
Ragusa said the bipartisan recount of absentee ballots found that Padavan won the election by 580 votes.
But Reich said he will be arguing before the judge today that those 2,000 ballots were submitted by first-time voters who registered before an October 24 deadline and therefore had cast valid ballots which mistakenly were never counted.
Ragusa in his statement insisted: "From the very beginning of this count, we have maintained that every legally cast ballot should be counted, and despite the baseless and erroneous claims made by the Queens Democratic Party and their political consultants, absolutely no voter disenfranchisement has occurred."
Hopefully, the hearing today before Justice Kevin Kerrigan will bring a conclusion to this controversial contest.
WEINER: 'ATM FEES TOO HIGH': Along with the annual pressure on pocketbooks that the holiday season brings plus the dreary economy, Congressmember Anthony Weiner adds soaring ATM fees to the "Shoppers Misery Index".
The champion of the middle class bemoaned the 28 percent increase in the average ATM surcharge every time a customer accesses his or her own money, as well as the 23 percent hike in the fee for withdrawing money at ATMs belonging to other banks.
"The law of economic gravity doesn't seem to apply when it comes to shoppers accessing their own money," Weiner said. "Banks are crying for billions while pulling more and more money from the pockets of consumers."
The economy didn't deter Weiner, a possible mayoral candidate next year, from making the rounds of Queens last Saturday for a variety of visits.
The usually upbeat lawmaker dropped in at the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club annual holiday party out in the northeast end of the borough; attended annual elected officials' reception of the Queens Civic Congress in Douglaston; and later in the day spoke at the Friends of New York West Indian Community Holiday dinner- dance in Richmond Hill, and at the Bukharian Jewish Congress in Forest Hills.
Oops! We skipped a visit Weiner had with shopkeeper Ariena Thomsen, owner of the Thank Heaven clothing store on Austin Street in Forest Hills, where he discussed small business problems which are hitting that part of the economy. One of them is that Queens businesses have borrowed 45 percent less this year, the largest dropoff in any of the boroughs.