City & State: This Week’s Winners and Losers
Federal magistrate Roanne Mann may be good at picking winners and losers. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara also has a knack for it. But we’ve been doing it much longer. And this week, while most would agree Comptroller John Liu had the worst of it, we looked beyond the headlines for the true winners and losers.
Ruben Diaz Jr. — A few months ago, the Bronx borough president and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were at each others’ throats over a living wage mandate. But this week, they penned an op-ed in the Daily News together to trumpet the deal that brought Fresh Direct to the Bronx. And that new friendship is already paying off: the Bloomberg administration reached a deal this week to keep the $2 billion Hunts Point Market in the Bronx while a new contract is negotiated. Frenemies forever!
Susan Lerner — At a redistricting hearing in federal court, the special magistrate Roanne Mann name-checked the maps drawn by Lerner’s Common Cause so many times that we began to forget all the other advocacy groups that had also drawn their own. Lerner maintains at this point that the court is the best chance the state has for fair lines, and it looks like she might be right, if only by default. The other parties can’t agree on anything, even as the clock ticks down toward primary day, and even the governor seems so exhausted by the subject that he’s willing to punt to the judicial system.
Charles Rangel — No matter how his district lines turn out, the legendary Harlem congressman can be assured of one thing: he has very powerful friends. Everyone from the head of the Manhattan Democratic Party – which seems to exist solely as a Charlie Rangel protection unit – to the president of the NAACP are scrambling to redraw Rangel’s district to best assure his re-election. And while it seems inevitable that his new district will include portions of the Bronx and Westchester, Rangel will likely coast to re-election on name recognition and charisma alone. He has lots of that too.
Bob Turner — The rookie Queens congressman should have been picked off easily in a compromise between Democrats and Republicans over which congressional seats to axe in the redistricting process, but Turner has made himself something of a mascot for the Republican party nationally, winning a traditionally Democratic seat, and earning a flattering New York Times profile to boot. So when the maps started rolling out, it became clear Republicans didn’t want to let him go when they opted to get rid of two Democratic congressional seats instead. The choice sent a clear signal that Turner matters, and could possibly pull off a win in the district next fall.
Harry Wilson — The former state comptroller candidate this week weighed in on pension reform in the New York Post this week, using the cachet and credibility he developed during his 2010 run against Tom DiNapoli. It’s unclear if he wants to run for office again, but he’s keeping his name out there, and with Detroit roaring back, he can take some serious credit for the successful auto bailout. And given all of Liu’s problems, if Wilson suddenly moves to New York City, things could get really interesting.
Ann Marie Buerkle — The first-term Finger Lakes congresswoman didn’t get her seat eliminated in either party’s latest redistricting proposals, but that doesn’t mean she dodged a bullet. Buerkle, who was narrowly elected in a district that already had more Democrats than Republicans, now faces maps that would add significantly more of them. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence for the vulnerable incumbent from her own party, and while the maps are still far from the final product, they could still get worse by removing her district entirely.
Melodie Mayberry-Stewart — Scathing audits from the state comptroller’s office rarely impact those in the private sector. But DiNapoli’s audit of the state Office for Technology was so scathing, it cost the office’s ex-director her job at a Baltimore consulting firm. The audit also bolstered DiNapoli’s case for keeping pre-audit functions in his office, something Cuomo wants to get rid of to streamline contract approvals. Losing your job, making DiNapoli look good and Cuomo look bad? Somebody’s getting an angry phone call.
Carolyn McCarthy — The ball’s in Carolyn’s court. With the way redistricting is shaking out, the Long Island congresswoman could be faced with the devil’s choice of either retiring or running against a fellow Democrat, Rep. Gary Ackerman. Either way, it would be a potentially unfortunate end for a member of Congress whose arrival there was quite inspiring.
Bruce Ratner — Forest City Ratner’s head honcho hasn’t been accused of doing anything wrong, but the powerful developer’s company is linked to a string of questionable characters, including disgraced former state Sen. Carl Kruger, lobbyist Richard Lipsky and several figures involved in a corruption case in Yonkers. Even if he played by the rules, those kinds of connections look bad for a man who sees himself as a force for good in New York – and whose business lives and dies on its relationship to government.
Chung Seto — When Jai (Jenny) Hou was arrested this week, a lot of folks in New York politics had the same reaction: “Who?” Not so with Liu’s well-known operative Seto, who is seen as the real brains behind Liu’s campaign operation. Most insiders suspect Seto, not the 25-year-old Hou,is the real force behind any alleged campaign finance fraud. And if prosecutors are trying to knock down dominoes to get to Liu himself, Seto must realize that the clicking noise she hears is dominoes toppling her way.
Vote for this week’s winners and losers at City & State.