Election Day always has its fair share of real winners like Steve Bellone, Mark Poloncarz and Mike Spano – and real losers like Angie Carpenter, Chris Collins and John Murtagh. But we prefer to shine a light on the operatives who win those races, the officials whose endorsements (or non-endorsements) made a difference, and the party officials who bet it all and won (or lost) big. Gov. Andrew Cuomo loomed large over these races, but this list is for the background players:
William Boyland Jr. — Thanksgiving came early for the Brooklyn assemblyman when he was acquitted of corruption charges yesterday. The federal government couldn’t prove Boyland did anything more than accept a job from a hospital and then leave his earnings off of his annual disclosure statements. The fact that he did no work for the hospital actually played in his favor: the defense used it to prove he wasn’t actively lobbying for the hospital. Boyland refused calls to resign, and now he gets to keep his job (one of them) and his paycheck.
George Gresham — The influential healthcare union 1199/SEIU played a quiet-yet-decisive role in Mark Polancarz’s upset win in Erie County. The race was enough of a priority that Poloncarz’s campaign manager, Jennifer Hibit, was 1199’s Buffalo political coordinator – and, controversially, may have been getting paid for her work by 1199. Another 1199 alum, Jennifer Cunningham, was also very involved in the campaign strategy. So what does union chief George Gresham get? A far more union-friendly administration in Erie County, and a chit with Cuomo, who was keen to knock his potential 2014 rival Chris Collins out of office before he had the chance to run.
Rich Schaffer — When everyone thought Suffolk County Supervisor Steve Levy was going to coast to a re-election victory, the Suffolk County Democratic chairman was among the biggest early champions of then-Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone. And when Levy dropped out suddenly, Bellone was perfectly positioned to assume the mantle as frontrunner. Observers said Bellone’s victory reasserted the status of the Suffolk Democratic Party, which suffered some tough losses in the 2010 elections. And Schaffer notched some other wins as well: Democrats held onto the majority in the county Legislature.
Doug Forand — The Red Horse Strategies principal and his firm were part of another big win on election night, running the heavily union-backed independent expenditure effort for Poloncarz’s winning campaign. The firm also worked on behalf of Steve Bellone in Suffolk, doing an independent expenditure campaign for the local police union, and helped Westchester Democrats potentially fend off a challenge to their supermajority in the Legislature. On a good night for Democrats across the state, one of the state’s top Democratic shops did even better.
Sherman Jewett — If this week’s election were a baseball game, Sherman Jewett’s Blue&Red political mailing firm would have batted a .770 average. Not too shabby. Jewett was the force behind a slew of colorful and creative pieces for 10 winning campaigns this cycle, including Erie County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz and Yonkers Mayor-elect Mike Spano. And in low-turnout races like these, the right mailer with the right eye-popping visuals and the right message can make all the difference.
Byron Brown — The Buffalo mayor lost a key ally in Chris Collins this week, after an upset victory by Mark Poloncarz for Erie County executive. Brown withheld the bulk of his get-out-the-vote operation for Poloncarz, and is now faced with the challenge of working with an energized county executive to unite the fractured local Democratic Party. It’s a tall task for a mayor beset with real-world problems, like urban blight and a stagnant economy.
James Molinaro — The Staten Island borough president denied having anything to do with the district attorney’s race, but he was widely viewed as intent on ousting incumbent DA Dan Donovan – an ally-turned-opponent who ended up winning in a landslide on Tuesday. In past races the Conservative Party had backed Donovan, who like Molinaro is a prominent and active Conservative. But this time the party’s endorsement on Staten Island somehow went to Democratic challenger Mike Ryan, which many attributed to meddling by Molinaro, who had a falling out with Donovan years before. Whatever role Molinaro had didn’t change the race much, as Donovan beat Ryan with a larger margin than in their matchup four years ago.
Ed Cox — The State Republican chair may have been having traumatic flashbacks Tuesday to his 2010 decision to run Steve Levy as a Republican for governor. His prognosis was slightly better after a win for Rep. Bob Turner in September, but the loss of Chris Collins in Erie, and the threat to party star Rob Astorino from a band of hostile Democrats in the Westchester County Legislature may leave him on a lonely and shrinking Republican island.
Charles Barron — Gaddafi? Really? Sure, the firebrand Brooklyn councilman loves to court controversy, with praise for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and a City Hall reception for Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe. But speaking up for the memory of despised Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi takes the cake – praising him as an African who stood up to America, and denying any link to bombed Pan Am Flight 103. Barron is a smart and canny politician, but has a magical ability to set any credibility he attains on fire.
Seth Diamond — The Department of Homeless Services commissioner defended the city’s new policy, which tries not to serve so many homeless New Yorkers, and came across as cold and unfeeling in doing so. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy shift discourages homeless New Yorkers from entering the city’s shelters, and requires they exhaust all other options before being allowed in. Diamond has had a rough time of it, facing tough questions from City Council members, promises of a legal challenge from homeless advocates and concerns from the state, which denied it had supported the change. The city reversed its decision late yesterday, pending a legal challenge, which probably means more tough questions for Diamond.
Read the full post at City Hall News.