2010-09-08 / Political Page

Incumbents Have Edge In Most Races

Political Analysis
BY JOHN TOSCANO

Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Queens voters, mostly Democrats will go to the polls on Tuesday for the primary elections to choose candidates for various federal and state legislative positions, with incumbents holding an edge in most cases—except for the state attorney general contest, where five major candidates are battling to replace Andrew Cuomo.

Republican voters will also be involved in the day’s activities, with their main chore being to pick their party’s candidate, Rick Lazio or Carl Paladino, for governor in a race that has seen Paladino getting closer to Lazio in recent polls.

Among the other candidates Republicans will have to choose among are their lieutenant governor hopefuls directly below the Lazio–Paladino line. There they will find a familiar name—Tom Ognibene, the former Glendale councilmember. He’s aiming a lot higher this time.

Voters will also have to deal with a new method of voting that may be as challenging as choosing among the candidates. This is likely to prolong the day’s activities.

Gary Ackerman Gary Ackerman As usual, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With Andrew Cuomo having been chosen as the Democrats’ candidate for governor at the party convention last spring and Tom Di Napoli designated and unchallenged and running for a full term as state comptroller, the party’s leaders decided not to choose an attorney general candidate to run to succeed Cuomo.

Into the vacuum rushed Kathleen Rice, Eric Schneiderman, Richard Brodsky, Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo. It’s been a real brawl for the past several months.

Rice, Nassau County district attorney and Schneiderman, a state senator from Upper Manhattan, appear to be the frontrunners at the moment, but with six more days until the election, there still may be some fireworks ahead.

Francisco Moya Francisco Moya The biggest set-to would be if Cuomo gets off the fence and makes an endorsement. That would likely be enough to get his choice elected.

Since the beginning of this race, it was thought by many political onlookers that Cuomo would back Rice, the only woman in the field, to give the Dem ticket some balance. It would also help his cause on Long Island, which is Lazio’s home base.

Cuomo received another nudge toward Rice on Monday, when it was revealed that Schneiderman, whose campaign has been surging in recent weeks while Rice’s effort appears to have stalled, has brought his ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, aboard as his campaign manager.

Schneiderman, according to the New York Post shocker, is paying Cunningham, a top lobbyist for SEIU 1199, the powerful hospital workers union, $900,000. That’s about the same amount of money Schneiderman received from the union as a campaign contribution.

Kirsten Gillibrand Kirsten Gillibrand This looks like the push Schneiderman needs to break loose from the field. Besides SEIU 1199, he has other major labor support, as well as the backing of every public official in Manhattan. The latest to embrace his campaign was Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, who endorsed him.

For weeks, the political buzz was that Cuomo would not be comfortable with Schneiderman, a dynamic lawmaker, as attorney general. One of Cuomo’s aims as governor is to bite into both Medicaid and the state’s payroll in order to get a handle on the state’s budget deficit. State labor unions would likely oppose Cuomo’s plans, and who better than Schneiderman would there be to give them the platform they need to make their case.

The stage has thus been set for Cuomo to endorse Rice who, despite spending over $2 million on her television ad campaign, far more than any other candidate, has not been able to ice the nomination.

Toby Ann Stavisky Toby Ann Stavisky The Post story also said that the Schneiderman—Cunningham connection could be a conflict of interest, the sort of thing every do-gooder and reformer is trying to stop in this election period. It might hurt Cuomo’s labor support, but that would be the lesser of two evils.

Perhaps Congressmember Gary Ackerman has been thinking along these same lines. On Monday, he endorsed Rice, citing her experience, bold ideas and aggressiveness in going after “cyber predators, corrupt politicians and those who defraud customers”.

Ackerman follows other Queens Democratic officials. Early on Queens Democratic Leader Congressmember Joseph Crowley and the entire organization endorsed her and should help her to get a healthy amount of votes in the borough.

Elsewhere in the race, Brodsky, Dinallo and Coffey have not been able to get any momentum going, despite Dinallo’s having excellent qualifications for the A.G.’s role.

However, Brodsky on Monday also picked up an endorsement that could somewhat deflate Schneiderman’s vote-getting ability in Manhattan.

The Brodsky endorsement came from DC 37, the city’s largest municipal union. DC 37 usually does some vote-pulling for its candidates, in this case, some of it in Manhattan, and that could affect Schneiderman’s vote in his home borough.

In the latest development in the race for the Democratic nomination for the 14th Congressional District seat, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and challenger Reshma Saujani traded major endorsements. Maloney was endorsed by the New York Times and Saujani garnered an endorsement by the Daily News.

The Times called Maloney’s a “bitter campaign” and called Saujani “an impressive and energetic young lawyer”. But, bottom line, the editorial called Maloney “a stalwart in fighting [for] women’s rights, financial reform, health care for workers at Ground Zero and better protections for credit card users”.

Saujani agrees with Maloney on these issues, the editorial pointed out, but added, “Maloney has already acted on them in Congress.”

The News editorial had good things to say about both candidates, but concluded, “The time for new vision and higher energy has arrived. Vote Saujani.”

A closer look at this contest and several others is presented elsewhere in this newspaper. Another contest covered in the state senate 10th district race between Senator Shirley Huntley (D–Jamaica/Richmond Hill) and real estate operator Lynn Nunez. Huntley also received the DC 37 endorsement.

The valuable DC 37 endorsement also went to Ackerman, and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (16th senate district. Stavisky is facing two challengers—John A. Messer of Bayside and Isaac Sasson of Flushing.

Stavisky has become a valued member of the Democratic majority and it appears she will win a new term.

Among the Assembly races in Queens that are on the ballot, incumbents David Weprin (24th AD), Andrew Hevesi (28th AD), Jeffrion Aubry (35th AD) and Michael Miller (38th AD) will win re-election.

Weprin has defeated his opponent, Bob Friedrich, several times in elections; Hevesi’s opponent, Joseph Fox, has not waged a strong enough campaign, and neither has Aubry’s opponent, Anthony Miranda, nor Miller’s (38 AD) challenger, Nick Comaianni.

In the races for two open seats, in the 26th AD (Bayside) and the 39th AD (Corona), the two Queens Democratic designees, Ed Braunstein and Francisco Moya, respectively, appear to be winners.

Braunstein faces Steven Behar, Elio Forcina and former Assemblymember John Duane, but Braunstein is favored by a coordinated and unified effort and should win.

The same goes for Moya, who picked up a late endorsement from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that, added to the county Democratic organization support, will enable him to defeat the discredited Hiram Monserrate.

On the Republican side, Rick Lazio faces Carl Paladino, whose every action and statement only add to Lazio’s chances. On the down side, Lazio does not have the monetary support, the manpower or the Republican voters to give him much chance against Cuomo.

In the GOP primary to name the candidate against Gillibrand, Bruce Blakeman, David Malpass and former Congressmember Joseph Dio Guardi have not raised much interest. Our guess is that Malpass’ experience and superior qualifications will win the day.

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