City & State: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Between the governor’s budget address and a new round of campaign finance reports, this week was even more packed than usual with political winners and losers. And while Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s retirement may help simplify the redistricting process, his wife’s DWI arrest certainly cast a pall on the encomiums for the congressman’s long and storied career. Here’s a look at who’s up and who’s down in New York politics this week:
Bill de Blasio — Call him the Sleeper. The public advocate has been relatively quiet on the campaign trail, even as his presumed rival for labor support, City Comptroller John Liu, has run into trouble – but new fundraising figures show what he’s been doing with his time. De Blasio raised $1 million in the last six months, more than any other mayoral contender and more than he ever has before. He must really want to win – or at least to make up for his $300,000 fine for illegal campaign signs in the last election.
Bill Mahoney — No matter who raises how much in every six-month state campaign finance period, the chief data miner at the New York Public Interest Group is always on top. He slices and dices the voluminous filings at warp speed, spinning out spreadsheet after spreadsheet to show, for example, how much Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised compared to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, or how the Senate Republicans stacked up against their Democratic counterparts. He gets as much ink on filing day as any state politician – and he deserves it.
James Alesi – The Rochester senator raised more money in the last six months than any of his Senate colleagues, but his $455,000 haul was followed closely by those of the other three Republican senators who helped pass same-sex marriage last year. Together they raised almost $1.6 million as deep-pocketed gay donors thanked them for their votes. It’s no guarantee against backlash in their districts, but it’s a nice cushion to fall back on.
Jeff Klein – The ringleader of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference got a big boost from an unlikely source this week in Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., who said Klein and his three cohorts should be offered leadership positions in the Senate Democratic conference. Sure, Diaz may have been lashing out after a fight with conference leader Sen. John Sampson, but he may be saying what other Democrats are beginning to think. Meanwhile, the IDC kept rolling out its legislative agenda this week and reported a respectable fundraising haul – especially compared with the rival No Bad Apples PAC.
Michael Grimm – Staten Island’s Republican congressman officially got a new opponent this week, and it’s likely this one will stick around longer than the last one. But it certainly wasn’t a bad week for Grimm: new challenger Mark Murphy admits he’s the underdog and will have to quickly raise campaign cash, unite skeptics in his own party and possibly fend off criticism of his father, former Congressman John Murphy, who lost the seat in the wake of the Abscam scandal. To top it off, Grimm reportedly has more than $1 million on hand in his campaign account. More suits for Mikey!
Sheldon Silver — The governor’s push for a less-generous pension tier and a gradual shift to 401(k)-style benefit plans is going to put the Assembly speaker’s loyalty to the state’s public employee unions to the test this year. And with the teachers union also getting the full Cuomo treatment, the sphinx-like Silver is rapidly running out of allies for his political battles this year.
Robert Duffy — Not even the lieutenant governor, Rochester’s former mayor, could have prevented Eastman Kodak from declaring bankruptcy this week, but it’s still a sad time for Duffy and all residents of the Flower City. Add to that a report that Duffy is still using campaign cash to pay for his Albany apartment and to attend football games, and the picture of the LG’s week gets a little fuzzier.
Liz Krueger – The Manhattan state senator says the No Bad Apples PAC always planned to spend a bit of its money upfront to train candidates – but it can’t have expected to be spending more than it raises. It’s hard to know what the rationale of No Bad Apples may be at this point: the Senate Democrats (and law enforcement) have essentially eradicated all the unloyal “bad apples” from the conference.
Bob Turner — Last year, the new Queens congressman’s come-from-behind win made him the darling of the New York Republican Party. This year, Turner might be on the redistricting chopping block, especially with the news of Hinchey’s retirement. The Hudson Valley Democrat’s departure could pave the way for the Legislature to eliminate Turner’s seat. But that would be expected to require the elimination of a Republican seat downstate – and with Turner the last one in, he’ll quite possibly be the first one out.
David Frankel – Wall Street executive decides to give back, goes into public service, inherits broken-down bureaucracy, wins plaudits for making it work. Frankel may have thought he was following Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s model when he left Morgan Stanley to become city Finance Commissioner in 2009, but the last step in that chain still hasn’t happened. Frankel has found himself repeatedly on the hot seat for failure after failure – most recently for failing to send out new property assessments on time. The only bright side is that, unlike the blown assessments on Queens apartments last year, his team caught their computer flaws before sending out bills this time.
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