City & State: This Week’s Winners and Losers

It was a political holiday this week, but for some reason there were still plenty of winners and losers to consider. Redistricting seemed to be nearing some sort of end game, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the stakes on pension reform. Albany and Washington were on vacation, as were public school teachers, who stared down a P.R. nightmare. Here’s how the rest of the week shook out for New York politics:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks during mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22. Over the weekend Dolan was elevated from and archbishop to cardinal in a ceremony at the Vatican in Rome. AP/Seth Wenig

Timothy Dolan — Dolan’s official promotion to cardinal this week – and the platform that will come with it – raises hope in the Catholic world that his more personable styles will be able to restore the Catholic voice in America. And it’s even raised the specter that he could be the first American Pope. But he will likely have to be more vocal on hot-button issues – something Dolan was largely unwilling to do doing the gay marriage debate in New York.

Karim Camara — The chairman of the Legislature’s Black, Latino, Hispanic and Asian Caucus is swiftly emerging as a powerful figure who seems to command the respect of both his colleagues and the governor’s office. As Cuomo seeks to bolster his standing among minorities throughout the state, Camara’s good graces will become an increasingly valuable piece of real estate for the governor. As long as the assemblyman doesn’t end up getting played by the governor, he’s riding high in Albany politics..

Paul Feiner — When the state announced its plan to rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge last year, the Greenburgh town supervisor launched a campaign to keep the old span in place and turn it into a pedestrian walkway, potentially saving millions of dollars at the same time. While some scoffed at the suggestion of another High Line-like greenway, this week Cuomo said it was an “exciting” option and his staff said they were exploring the issue. But there’s no word on whether they’ll take up Feiner’s proposal to install wind turbines on the new Tappan Zee.

Christine Quinn — Most people won’t pay attention to the details of this week’s court ruling against the Bloomberg administration’s homeless policy, but the City Council speaker won’t mind. She led the council’s lawsuit against the policy, and now can campaign for mayor as a compassionate defender of the powerless who stopped a callous administration’s cruel program. Quinn’s close ties to Bloomberg aren’t always an asset, so victories like this help her walk a tightrope.

Mary Ann Sumner — The town of Dryden made headlines this week when a state judge ruled that it can ban hydrofracking, a controversial drilling procedure under review in New York. Sumner, the town supervisor, and her fellow town council members banned the practice last August, prompting a lawsuit from a drilling company. The court ruling, the first to allow a New York locality to ban hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale, is expected to be only the first step in a protracted legal battle – but it’s still a win that reverberates far beyond the upstate town.

Kirsten Gillibrand — She’s one of the country’s most liberal senators, yet she rakes in cash from Wall Street. She’s a well-financed incumbent who Republicans are struggling to challenge, but her poll numbers keep slipping below that crucial 50 percent mark. And she has a new Republican challenger to run against every week! Conservative attorney Wendy Long is the latest to announce her intentions – which probably won’t bother the cash-insulated Gillibrand too much. But more challengers may follow. And that means less hanging out with Little Steven and Anna Wintour and more actual campaigning.

Garry McCarthy — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is outraged. So is Newark Mayor Cory Booker. But McCarthy – the former high-ranking NYPD official who ran the Newark Police Department when his old New York buddies spied on Muslims there – hasn’t explained, or complained about, how it happened. Now running the troubled Chicago Police Department, McCarthy still has Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support – but this won’t help his dream of one day coming back to run the NYPD.

Michael Mulgrew — Daily News scribe Juan Gonzalez predicted this week that the release of teacher performance ratings will presage tabloid headlines like “The City’s 10 Worst Reading Teachers.” He’s probably right. And despite UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s fevered efforts to keep the scorecards out of the hands of the hungry press, a judge’s ruling means those reports go public. All Mulgrew can do now is damage control, i.e. buy up ad space to attempt to discredit the math behind the reports. And that’s going to be costly, with uncertain results. Sort of like the scorecards themselves.

John Sampson — Cuomo’s statement this week that he didn’t oppose the creation of a 63rd Senate seat – just the process that created it – will likely give Republicans cover to keep it when their new lines come out. That’s bad new for Sampson’s Democratic conference, which would be helped considerably if there were only 62 seats. And Cuomo’s continued reluctance to publicly commit to supporting the Senate Democrats in this year’s elections can’t make Sampson’s lot any easier.

Dean Skelos — Any veneer of control the Senate Majority Leader once appeared to have over the redistricting process is evaporating rapidly this week, after reports of the Senate Republicans’ plans to drop their lawsuit over the prison-gerrymandering law dovetailed with a Brooklyn special master’s appointment to draw lines in time for elections. Republicans pleaded with the special master to consider only Congressional lines, basically an admission that if she were to redraw Senate lines, the conference could be staring down their own extinction. And then the governor hedged again on his position on vetoing their maps, all of which should have Skelos feeling like he’s in the hot seat until November.

Vote for this week’s winners and losers at City & State.


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