2009-12-30 / Political Page

Busy Year Ahead In Political World

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And may the best man or woman win in the major races that are on tap in 2010 in New York state—governor, U.S. Senator, state senate and Assembly.

And remember—who controls the statehouse in Albany and the legislature will control the redrawing of congressional and legislative district lines following next year’s census. The odds now favor the Democrats to continue occupying the governor’s mansion and the Assembly after next November’s elections, but the big question is who will win control of the state senate in those elections.

As for the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand may get a stiff challenge from the Republicans. She is not a sure bet to win re-election yet.

As for the state’s congressional races, incumbent New York City Congressmembers Joseph Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, Anthony Weiner, Gary Ackerman and Gregory Meeks should have no problem winning reelection.

However, if the Republican backlash against the Democrats, which marked last November’s elections, emerges in 2010, or the traditional backlash against the party in power in a new president’s second term shows itself, the contests involving Gillibrand, some upstate congressmembers and key state senate races could swing the pendulum to the GOP and seriously alter the political picture in the state.

In the governor’s race, New York Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo appears well positioned to become the Democratic candidate. He has for several months clearly topped incumbent Governor David Paterson in the polls and Paterson faces a tough challenge in raising the required campaign cash and other support needed to be a realistic opponent for Cuomo in the primary.

Cuomo, meanwhile, hasn’t officially announced yet, but sufficient numbers of Democratic officials have indicated their intention of backing him for the job. However, Paterson can’t be ruled out for running in the primary.

At the same time, Cuomo has shown the ability to raise the necessary funding to mount

major campaign.

On the Republican side, as the Gazette went to press last night, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had reportedly decided not to run for governor or U.S. Senator next year.

In the governor’s race, Giuliani reportedly was set to endorse former Long Island Congressmember Rick Lazio, who had already announced his intention to run for governor.

At this point, it appears Lazio might be challenged in the GOP primary by Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

Giuliani has been leading Gillibrand in the polls and there was some expectation he would eventually challenge her in the election. In the most recent Quinnipiac Poll, Giuliani was leading Gillibrand by 10 points.

If, indeed, Giuliani is out of the picture, Gillibrand could have a clear path to re-election. The upstate New Yorker has the blessings of President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders, and this has scared off and shut off the financial spigot for anyone considering challenging her in the Democratic primary.

The most recent real possibility to take up a challenge

was New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., whose term will end tomorrow.

Coming off a very close loss to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it would appear Thompson is holding a hot hand. But actually, it might be very difficult to raise the funds for a statewide race so soon after having tapped supporters for the mayoral race. We would venture a guess that Thompson will not challenge Gillibrand; it would be expecting too much from him to attract realistic support, given the fence Obama has built up around her.

In the Assembly races, realistic challenges may emerge here and there, but the Democratic majority presently held by Speaker Sheldon Silver seems impenetrable.

Democratic Assembly incumbents in Queens and throughout the city and state rarely are challenged and more rarely lose their seats.

In Queens, the only Democratic incumbent that may be seriously challenged this year is Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza of Bayside.

Republicans have been beating up on her since questions were raised about her residency, but longtime incumbents rarely lose their seats for this reason.

Yet the borough’s GOP leaders, principally county Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, have kept the anti-Carrozza campaign going, trying to arouse opposition through press releases attacking her voting record.

The organization, led by county Chairman Philip Ragusa, did very well in this past November’s City Council elections, taking a few seats. It looks like they want to challenge Carrozza, but as yet no opponent has emerged.

The only change that will occur in the Democratic Assembly lineup in Albany in 2010 will be the addition of David Weprin, replacing his brother Mark, who will move downstate to the city council following last November’s election.

David Weprin, who gave up his council seat to run for city comptroller and lost, has said that he will run for his brother’s old seat in Eastern Queens when there’s a special election called to fill it. He should have no trouble winning that election, nor when he runs again for a full two-year term in November.

Mark Weprin had succeeded his father, Saul Weprin, when Saul died, so David Weprin will keep the family name in Albany if he goes through with plans to run for the seat.

As far as the fight for control of the state senate in next November’s elections, it’s likely there will be no change in the present Democratic, Republican distribution of seats that presently exists.

Incumbent Republican state Senator Frank Padavan, who will be starting his 37th year in the senate next week, has given no indication that he intends to call it a career yet.

Democratic incumbents George Onorato, Malcolm Smith, Toby Ann Stavisky, Shirley Huntley and Joseph Addabbo Jr. should win new terms next year, too.

Senator Hiram Monserrate will be challenged by Assemblymember Jose Peralta in the primary, but no matter who wins, the seat will remain in the Democratic column.

Onorato is due to start his 27th year in Albany next week, and there’s been some speculation he might retire rather than seek re-election in 2010. Even if he does, the Astoria lawmaker’s district is solidly Democratic, as are all the other senate enclaves in Queens.

Basically, if the 2010 elections are to produce any changes in the state senate regarding who will control that house beyond next November, those changes will have to happen elsewhere in the state.

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