City & State: This Week’s Winners and Losers
While rapper Ja Rule and ex-state Comptroller Alan Hevesi go over their tax forms in prison, a federal judge tasked with selecting the state’s congressional primaries threw a dart and hit the month of June. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wasn’t Time’s Man of the Year, just man of the week, and the redistricting charade continued to play out across the state. Here’s who’s up and who’s down this week in New York politics:
Andrew Cuomo — Another week, another lesson in “Expanding Executive Powers 101” with Professor Andrew Cuomo. The governor continued to extend his reach this week, first through language in his budget that would allow for the transferring of public employees between agencies, and then through the selection of one of his top aides, Ellen Biben, to head the newly formed public ethics commission. The newly aggressive Department of Financial Services may be encroaching on the turf of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who also was ordered by Cuomo to stay out of the primary date kerfuffle. Hardly the machinations of a kindly “Uncle Cuomo,” like he was Photoshopped in a recent budget presentation. He should stick with the more apt “I am the government.”
Steve Israel — The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for boosting his caucus’ ranks across the country this fall, and there are at least a few bright spots here in his home state. As Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm fends off a report of campaign finance allegations, his only declared opponent, Mark Murphy, raked in $100,000 over the past week. And incumbent Democratic Rep. Bill Owens saw another Republican get into the race to challenge him, which could potentially split the opposition vote, depending on which one gets the Conservative nod.
Kirsten Gillibrand — Quicker than you could delete an incriminating blog post, Republican businessman Marc Cenedella declared this week that he would not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, even though he thinks she is highly “beatable.” Gillibrand capped the week with the Senate’s successful passage of her pro-transparency STOCK Act. And Cenedella wasn’t the only potential rival to opt out of running: Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks also said she would not be challenging the senator this year. She didn’t even need to write any dunderheaded blog posts to make the decision.
Michael Bloomberg — It’s been a good week for our lame-duck mayor, with a budget that made headlines for its lack of drama and a $250,000 gift to Planned Parenthood that stood as an open rebuke to the Susan G. Komen foundation’s decision to withdraw funding from the group. The gift, which helps make up more than a quarter of what Planned Parenthood stood to lose in grants, drew praise from city leaders more used to criticizing Bloomberg on budget day, and showed off the mayor’s best quality: his low tolerance for B.S.
Cy Vance Jr. — One of the Manhattan District Attorney’s campaign pledges, a DNA database of people convicted of crimes, was passed by the state Senate in Albany this week, and got a strong stamp of approval from Cuomo. Assembly Democrats have problems with the bill, but concede that anything the governor pushes for can usually be made the subject of a compromise. That will make Vance just the latest beneficiary of Cuomo’s “everybody wins” strategy, and provide another feather in his cap.
Lew Fidler — He may not have been the week’s biggest Lew-ser, but Fidler’s campaign inflicted some unnecessary pain on itself this week. His Senate opponent David Storobin’s writings were questionable enough that Storobin saw fit to delete them. But Fidler’s campaign overplayed its hand by explicitly saying Storobin, a Jew whose relatives fought against the Nazis, was linked to white supremacist groups. Eventually, Fidler backed off – a clear signal he’d really, really like to change the subject.
Michael Grimm – The allegations of fundraising violations against the Staten Island congressman raised by the New York Times last weekend have not been substantiated, but they’ve had an impact. Grimm dropped out of sight for days while a number of potential candidates began taking a closer look at challenging him this fall. Grimm strongly denied any wrongdoing, but sources in both parties privately say they’re not too surprised by the allegations.
Christine Quinn — What’s the right formula for a bad week? For Christine Quinn it involves one part having to return campaign donations from Suzanne Raffaelli, a straw donor for convicted Ponzi schemer Norman Hsu, and one part large New York Times expose of her cozy relationship with Bolton St. John’s lobbyist Emily Giske, a relationship that enriched Giske as she lobbied on issues affecting the city. Quinn comes off like just another politician, despite her past liberal bona fides.
Anthony Weiner — It came to light this week that Anthony Weiner spent $13,000 in campaign cash to hire private investigators to probe his Twitter snafu. But like the rest of America, the gumshoes quickly caught on that it was the ex-Queens pol who had tweeted his own crotch shot. Typically campaign filing stories are about cash being used to pay legal fees, so thanks to Weiner for breaking the mold.
John Herron — Indian Point, long a target for closure by Cuomo and environmental groups, came under more scrutiny this week: two Assembly committees concluded the nuclear plant could be shut down with little impact, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reiterated his call for an independent safety review, and the feds said Entergy must re-assess the plant’s earthquake risk, which is greater than previously thought. None of that can be much fun for Herron, the CEO of Entergy Nuclear, as the company works to keep the facility open.
Vote for this week’s winners and losers at City & State.