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Political Updates

New York State Primary Election Recap

New York State held its primary elections on Tuesday September 9th. With just a few exceptions, incumbents were able to defeat challengers. Races in the turbulent and narrowly divided State Senate drew the most attention.

Cuomo, Hochul Win Easily

Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily defeated challenger Zephyr Teachout for the Democratic nomination for governor. Governor Cuomo’s preferred lieutenant governor running mate, Kathy Hochul, defeated Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu.

Although Teachout and Wu had little money and name recognition, each received a higher-than expected percentage of votes in the low-turnout primary. Some observers see the result as a reflection of liberal voter dissatisfaction with Gov. Cuomo.

Governor Cuomo took about 62% of the vote, with Teachout getting 34% and Randy Credico 3.6%. Kathy Hochul won the race for Lt. Governor over Tim Wu, 60%-40%. Cuomo and Hochul will have four ballot lines in the November election: the Democratic Party; the Working Families Party; the Independence Party line; andthe newly-createdWomen's Equality Party line.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night, Governor Cuomo congratulated Ms. Teachout and Mr. Wu “on running a spirited campaign, engaging in the democratic process and having the courage to make their voices heard.”

Governor Cuomo now heads into November’s general election against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a strong position, facing a little-known conservative opponent in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. Previewing his general election strategy, Gov. Cuomo touted the state progress, and said:

“We want to build on the success of the last four years; they want to tear New York down and bring back the hyper-partisan gridlock that has ground Washington to a halt. We want to continue the innovative economic development strategies that have created 500,000 new private sector jobs; they want to reverse them. We want to guarantee equal rights for the more than ten million women in our State; they want to roll back the standards established under Roe. v. Wade more than forty years ago. We passed one of the strongest gun laws in the nation and strive to keep dangerous weapons out of children’s hands; they want to repeal it and bring guns into our schools.”

“Our State can never succeed if we refuse to believe in it. New York is on its way to reclaiming its place as a model for the nation and the world. We must not turn back now. We can and we will continue to create jobs, reduce taxes, invest in education, and make New York a center for opportunity, innovation and equality for all.”

Incumbent Legislators Facing Primary Challenges

While most incumbent state lawmakers were able to overcome their primary challengers, some did not.

In Washington Heights, incumbent Adriano Espaillat was able to hold off a strong challenge from former City Councilman Robert Jackson, 50-43%.  In June, Senator Espaillat had challenged and lost to Congressman Charles Rangel in June but under state law he was still able to run for reelection in September.  Councilman Jackson had endorsed Congressman Rangel in the Congressional primary.

State Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) was upset by challenger Kevin Stocker, who won their race for the 60th Senate District by a 57%-43% margin. Stocker, an attorney from Kenmore, lost to Grisanti in 2012. Stocker will face Democrat Marc Panepinto, also a local attorney, in November. Grisanti will be on the Independence Party line in November. If he remains in the race, he could be a factor in the outcome.

State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), the former Senate Majority Leader, was soundly beaten by former New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie. Smith is under a federal indictment; he stands accused of trying to bribe his way onto the 2013 New York City mayoral ballot as a Republican.

IDC Members Win Primary Races

The Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which is currently in a coalition leadership agreement with the Senate GOP but has agreed to join with the regular Senate Democratic Conference in 2015, survived two primary challenges.

IDC Leader and Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein easily defeated his primary opponent Oliver Koppell, 66.8%-33.2%.

Senator Tony Avella fought off a spirited challenge from former New York City Comptroller John Liu, winning the race 52% - 48%.

As a result, the five-member IDC is expected to return to Albany in January intact.

Open Legislative Seats

There are currently a large number of vacancies in the Legislature. In a number of these seats, winning the party primary is tantamount to winning the general election.

Locally in Assembly District 72 (Manhattan) Guillermo Linares won the race to replace Gabriella Rosa, who was convinced of entering into a fraudulent marriage. Linares previously held this seat; in 2012, he ran for State Senate and lost in a primary.

Elsewhere, the winners of primary races for were:

Senate District 20 (Brooklyn) – Jesse Hamilton, a Democrat, is not expected to face any serious opposition in November. Hamilton has indicated that he may decide to sit with the IDC in January, rather than with the regular Democratic Conference.

Senate District 40 (Hudson Valley) – Terrence Murphy defeated Bob Castelli in the Republican primary, 70% - 30%. Murphy will face Democrat Justin Wagner in November in the race to replace Republican Greg Ball.

Senate District 62 (Niagara/Orleans/Monroe) – Robert Ortt defeated Gia Arnold 78%-22% in the Republican primary. Ortt will face Democrat Johnny Destino in November in the race to replace Republican George Maziarz.

Assembly District 42 (Brooklyn) – Rodneyese Bichotte won the race to replace Rhoda Jacobs, who is retiring.

Assembly District 52 (Brooklyn) – Jo Anne Simon won the race to replace Joan Millman, who is retiring.

Assembly District 54 (Brooklyn) – Former New York City Councilman Erik Dilan won the race to replace Rafael Espinal, who is now serving on the New York City Council.

Assembly District 55 (Brooklyn) – Latrice Walker won the race to replace William Boyland, who was convicted of bribery charges.

Assembly District 60 (Brooklyn) – Former New York City Councilman Charles Barron won the race to replace his wife Inez Barron, who is now serving on the New York City Council.

Assembly District 76 (Manhattan) – Rebecca Seawright won the race to replace Micah Kellner, who is not running for re-election.

Assembly District 77 (Bronx) – Latoya Joyner won the race to replace Democrat Vanessa Gibson, who is now serving on the New York City Council.

Assembly District 79 (Bronx) -- Michael Blake won the race to replace Eric Stevenson (D), who was convicted of accepting bribes.

Assembly District 98 (Orange/Rockland) -- Karl Brabenec won the Republican primary for this seat, which became vacant when Republican Ann Rabbit was elected Orange County Clerk. In the Democratic primary, Elisa Tutini leads Aron Weider by just over 100 votes with 98% of the votes counted.

Assembly District 143 (Erie County) – Mark Mazurek won the Democratic primary to replace Democrat Dennis Gabryszak who resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal. He will face Republican Angela Wozniak in November.

Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Steps Down after 10 Years of Service

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., will step down in a few months after ten years of service. Dr. Clancy was named director of AHRQ in 2003, and was reappointed in 2009.  According to Secretary Sebelius, Dr. Clancy will continue to work with the AHRQ for the next few months while the Department of Health and Human Services begins the search for Dr. Clancy’s replacement.  

Senator Harkin to Retire After 40 Years of Service

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has announced that he will not seek re-election in November 2014, ending a 40-year congressional career.  Senator Harkin is currently serving his fifth, and final, term in congress.  The Senator has been a long term advocate for medical research and the National Institutes of Health.  Among his many successes, Senator Harkin, in conjunction with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), succeeded in doubling the NIH budget from 1998-2003; he also led an effort in 2009 to include $10.4billion for the NIH in the stimulus package.  The Senator also sponsored legislation that would have expanded federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells and helped create a research program for breast cancer at the Department of Defense, doubling research funding for the disease.  Senator Harkin currently serves as the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions committee and is also the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services which has jurisdiction over funding for the National Institutes of Health.

Assemblywoman Rosa Sworn in as First Dominican Woman Elected to the

New York State Assembly

On January 6th, Assemblywoman Gabriella Rosa was sworn in to the New York State Assembly at a ceremony at P.S. 48 in Washington Heights.  The ceremony was attended by over three hundred supporters, including Senator Charles E. Schumer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Senator Adriano Espaillat, Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, and Assemblyman Denny Farrell.  Assemblywoman Rosa is the first Dominican woman to be elected to the Assembly.  She is also the first woman to be elected to the Assembly from Upper Manhattan.  

During her address, Rosa stated that she plans on partnering with her colleagues in the City Council and New York State Senate on a progressive platform that includes expanding affordable housing, improving education and economic development, as well as expanding services to the elderly and disabled.  Below she is accompanied by her son and husband as she is sworn in by Judge Rita Mella.


Gabriella Rosa.jpeg

Senator Espaillat Cruises to Primary Victory; Gabriella Rosa Wins Assembly Race

On September 13th, New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat, fresh off a very narrow defeat in the Congressional primary, easily won his primary race to be reelected to the New York State Senate.  Normally, the party primaries for both state and federal offices are held on the same day, preventing a candidate from running for more than one office in the same year, but this year the state primary was held after the federal race, allowing Senator Espaillat to run for reelection even though he had run for Congress just two and a half months earlier.

Senator Espaillat was first elected to the State Senate in 2010 after fourteen years of service in the State Assembly.  Redistricting, which occurs every ten years, meant that the district he was running in was significantly different from the one he currently represents, dropping the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx, and picking up large sections of the Upper West side and even Midtown.  Despite the challenge of running in an unfamiliar territory, Senator Espaillat won an impressive victory over New York State Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, beating him 62% to 38%.

Because both the State Senate and Assembly are State offices, Assemblyman Linares had to give up his seat in the Assembly in order to run for Senate.  Mayra Linares, his daughter, ran to take his place, but lost to Gabriella Rosa, 44% to 34% with two other candidates receiving the rest of the votes.  Ms. Rosa, who currently works for Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell will likely become the first woman of Dominican heritage elected to the New York State Legislature.  In the area’s other Assembly district, Assemblyman Farrell was unopposed.

Elsewhere in New York City, two members of the Legislature who are currently under investigation, Senator Shirley Huntley of Queens and Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, were defeated.  A third Legislator tainted by scandal, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, was unopposed, but is facing pressure to resign.

Outside the City, the biggest story was the fate of the three Republican members who voted last year for same sex marriage who faced primary challenges from the right.  There were four Republican Senators who supported the measure, but one, James Alesi (Rochester) chose not to run for reelection.  While Mark Grisanti (Buffalo area) won handily, the races of the two others, Steven Saland (Hudson Valley) and Roy McDonald (Saratoga) are still too close to call.  After the votes were counted on primary night, Senator Saland had a forty vote lead over his opponent, Neil DiCarlo, while Senator McDonald was trailing Kathleen Marchione by 138 votes.  Absentee and paper ballots will determine the outcome of these two hard fought battles.

Races for State Senate and Assembly in Northern Manhattan

Two heavyweights in Northern Manhattan politics will face off against each other in the Democratic primary as they vie for their party’s nomination for State Senator from the 31st district.  The election is September 13th.

Adriano Espaillat is the current State Senator from the existing 31st district and is the incumbent for a large portion of the district, but owing to the redistricting which takes place every ten years, the boundaries will change come January.  Parts of the existing district, most notably Riverdale in the Bronx, have been taken out of the 31st and the district now stretches down the West side of Manhattan.  In June, Senator Espaillat came very close to unseating veteran Congressman Charles Rangel in the primary race for the newly drawn 13th Congressional district.

Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, who currently represents parts of Washington Heights, Inwood, and all of Marble Hill in the Assembly (72nd district) has chosen not to run for reelection to the Assembly and is instead challenging Senator Espaillat for the State Senate seat.  Both Senator Espaillat and Assemblyman Linares have been leading figures in northern Manhattan for over two decades.  Senator Espaillat was first elected to the State Senate in 2010 after fourteen years in the Assembly seat which Assemblyman Linares now holds.  Assemblyman Linares was first elected to the Assembly in 2010 had previously served in the New York City Council.

There are four candidates running to replace Assemblyman Linares in the 72nd Assembly district.  One of them is his daughter, Mayra Linares.  The other three are Melanie Hidalgo, Gabriella Rosa, and Ruben Vargas.  Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell” is running unopposed in the area’s other Assembly district, the 71st.

Syracuse Mayor and Member of the Assembly to Co-lead New York State Democratic Party


Governor Cuomo has spoken: Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Keith Wright, a Harlem Assemblyman and head of the New York County branch of the party, will take the helm of the New York State Democratic Party after what should be a perfunctory vote on June 5th.


“Mayor Miner and Assemblyman Wright are outstanding leaders both for our party and our state," Governor Cuomo said.  "They have been dedicated community leaders and champions of the key missions of the Democratic Party.  I thank them for agreeing to serve in these critical positions and look forward to working with them in their new roles.”


Currency Chair Jay Jacobs announced earlier that he planned to step down as chairman of the party.  He will remain head of the Nassau County party.  “I expect to turn the Chairman’s gavel over to both of them with full confidence that they will continue the good work we have done over the last few years supporting our elected leaders and candidates at all levels of government in the State," Jacobs said in a release.

Senator Espaillat to Challenge Congressman Rangel in Newly Drawn 13th Congressional District


Congressman Charles Rangel, a veteran of twenty-one terms in Congress will be challenged in the upcoming Democratic Primary by State Senator Adriano Espaillat.   The contest is expected to be one of the most serious challenges the former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has ever faced.  The primary is June 26th, 2012 and both men have already begun to circulate petitions to be on the ballot.        

As a result of the 2010 census, New York State will lose two seats in the House of Representatives.  Following the failure of the State Legislature to agree upon new lines for New York’s Congressional districts, United States Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann drew a set of lines that was ultimately, with minor revisions, adopted by a three judge panel. 


While still including Central Harlem and Northern Manhattan, the newly drawn 13th Congressional District will now include parts of the Bronx, while shedding parts of Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side.  Columbia’s Morningside campus will be part of the newly numbered 10th district.  Current 8th district Representative Jerold Nadler is expected to run and win in that district.  Manhattanville will remain in the 13th district.

Several leaders in the Latino community had hoped to create a new district with a large Latino population that would not have come at the expense of so much of Congressman Rangel’s current district.  Those efforts were not successful.  Still, the 13th district drawn by the Magistrate is 50% Latino and only 27% percent African American.  Non-Hispanic Caucasians will comprise 12.2% of the population.  Despite still including the core of Congressman Rangel’s district, it does present an opportunity for a challenge by a Latino candidate.

 Serving his first term as a State Senator, Senator Espaillat served in the New York State Assembly for fourteen years where he was the first Dominican American ever elected to state government.  He ran for Manhattan Borough President in 2005.  If he is successful in his effort to unseat the Congressman, he would be the first Dominican American ever elected to the U.S. House.

In any other year, he would have had to give up his seat in the State Senate in order to run for Congress, but this year the federal and state primaries will be held almost three months apart.  He can run for the House and if he loses, he could still run for reelection to the State Senate, although, again owing to redistricting, the lines of his State Senate seat will change noticeably.

The race, which is forcing many people in the community to choose between two allies, promises to be one of the most exciting primary races in New York this year.  The winner of the Democratic primary is all but certain to be elected in November.

Governor and Legislature Come to Agreement on Redistricting

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly majorities have agreed on a redistricting proposal as part of a long-term reform effort.  The Senate Republican and Assembly Democratic majorities passed the plan, despite condemnation from some good-government groups that the district lines were gerrymandered to protect the majorities' political power and perks for the next ten years.  The legislature has agreed to accept the Judge’s decision of Congressional lines.

Governor Cuomo signed the measure, withdrawing his promised veto of any "hyper-partisan lines."  Governor Cuomo ultimately traded his veto for a long-term overhaul through a constitutional amendment which the Senate and the Assembly each agreed upon.   Accordingly, they introduced a resolution and passed a bill that will amend the state Constitution to establish a new redistricting process for both state legislative and congressional district lines.  The separate statute requires the amendment to be passed a second time by both houses no later than January 30, 2013, at which point it will be placed on the ballot statewide for approval by the voters.  The constitutional amendment will reform the redistricting process permanently beginning in the next cycle in 2020-22.

The Senate plan maintains thirteen districts with racial minorities accounting for more than half of the voters and created the chamber's first district with a majority of Asian voters.  The plan also adds a 63rd seat through Republican suburbs upstate, but it, too, has more enrolled Democrats.

Republicans Score Big Victory in House Special ElectionDemocrats Hold onto Seats in the Assembly


Republican Bob Turner scored an upset victory over Assemblyman David Weprin to replace Anthony Weiner in the 9th Congressional District giving him and the Republicans a special win.


Congressman Turner soundly defeated Assemblyman Weprin 54-46 in what many see as a rebuke to President Obama’s policies on Israel and the economy.  This seat was in democratic hands for almost 100 years where democrats account for a majority of 3 to 1.


Congressman Turner capitalized on discontent on some corners of the Jewish community over President Obama’s handling of the Middle Eastern peace process while former NYC Mayor Ed Koch urged voters to rebuke the President and vote for Mr. Turner.  


Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew, came out in strong support of Mr. Turner asking the district’s large concentration of Orthodox Jews to not vote for Assemblyman David Weprin.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a last minute push, investing over $600,000 when a poll showed Assemblyman trailing by six points, but he was never able to get his message out and campaign off the ground in spite of a large campaign war chest compared to his opponent.


Congressman Turner’s victory may be like winning a seat on the Titanic.  New York is losing two seats in the House of Representatives and the 9th district is a prime target to be chopped up, forcing Congressman Turner to run for reelection against a Democratic opponent in an unfamiliar district.


That same day, there were six special elections to replace Members of the Assembly, all Democrats who left office mid-term.  Although there was some thought that the Republicans could pick up one of more seats, Democratic candidates swept all six races.


23rd Assembly District (Audrey Pheffer)

This race was the closest in Queens as the Turner/Weprin race overlapped 70% of the district.  However, Congressman Turner’s coat tails in Breezy Point weren’t enough to help his Republican neighbor, Jane Deacy, defeat Democrat Phil Goldfeder in the seat vacated by Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, who held the seat for 24 years. This was the toughest Assembly race in the state. Mr. Goldfeder won 56% to 44%.


27th Assembly District (Nettie Mayersohn)

Democrat Michael Simanowitz easily defeated Republican Marco DeSena with 76 % of the vote.              


54th Assembly District (Darryl Towns)

Democrat Rafael Espinal, the Brooklyn Democratic organization’s candidate, defeated Jesus Gonzalez, who ran on the Working Families Party line and Dierdra Towns, the daughter of Representative Edolphus Towns for the 54th Assembly seat.  The numbers were Espinal with 44%, Gonzalez with 32% and Towns with 23%.  This race was a strong win for embattled Kings County Leader Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

73rd Assembly District (Jonathan Bing)

Democrat Dan Quart defeated Republican Paul Niehaus, capturing 64% of the vote.

116th Assembly District (Ro Ann Destito)

Democrat Anthony Brindisi defeated republican Greg Johnson 57% to 43 %.


144th Assembly District (Sam Hoyt)

Democrat Sean Ryan defeated Republican Sean Kipp with 71% of the vote.

Special Elections Set to Fill Open Seats in Washington and Albany

Governor Cuomo has announced that the state will hold special elections for the six open Assembly districts and the Congressional seat vacated by Rep. Anthony Weiner on September 13th – which coincides with primaries that are already taking place

9th Congressional District (Formerly held by Anthony Weiner)

Republicans chose their nominee, businessmen Bob Turner to run while the Democrats chose New York Assemblyman David Weprin, a former member of the New York City Council and a 2009 candidate for City Comptroller.  Mr. Turner has received the conservative line while Assemblyman Weprin received the Independence and Working Families Party lines.

Weiner represented New York’s 9th congressional district, which covers parts of Queens and Brooklyn, for more than 12 years.  After being caught in a scandal involving lewd photos sent to several women via Twitter, the married congressman stepped down on June 16.

Mr. Turner a retired television executive challenged Congressman Weiner in 2010, his first foray into the political arena.  The 70 year old Breezy Point Resident achieved over 40 percent of the vote, creating excitement that a Republican could possibly win.  However, this district has over 100,000 more Democrats and Assemblyman David Wepin, no stranger to politics across the city, will be a welcomed relief in replacing the contentious Anthony Weiner.

116th Assembly District (Formerly held by RoAnn Destito)

The seat will be sought by Republican Councilman Greg Johnson and Democrat Anthony Brindisi, a local attorney and Utica school board member.  The 116TH Assembly District, which includes portions of Rome, Floyd, Marcy, Whitestown and the City of Utica, was vacated in May by longtime Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito.  In May, Destito was confirmed as the Commissioner of the State’s Office of General Services.  We believe the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee will go full out to win this seat.

114th Assembly District (Formerly held by Sam Hoyt)

Republicans have nominated Sean Kipp as their candidate to replace Sam Hoyt, while the Democrats have nominated Sean Ryan, an attorney who specialized in housing issues.  Kipp is the Sales Director at a Southtowns Auto Dealership and has never held or run for political office.  Hoyt officially resigned from his seat July 6 to take a job as the Senior Vice President for Regional Economic Development at the Empire State Development Corp.

23rd Assembly District (Formerly held by Audrey Pheffer)

Philip Goldfeder, a top aide to Sen. Chuch Schumer, has been selected by the Queens Democrats to run in the special election to replace Audrey Pheffer in the 23rd Assembly District, which is in Ozone Park, Howard Beach and the Rockaways.  Mr. Goldfeder also has received the Independence and Working Family party lines.  The Queens Republican and Conservatives parties have chosen Jane Deacy, retired policewoman who is now a Republican district leader from Breezy Point. Pheffer resigned from the Assembly in May to become the Queens County Clerk and Commissioner of Jurors.

The 23rd AD has elected Democrats for over 45 years, with Audrey Pheffer consistently winning with over 68 percent of the vote.  However, this district has become more conservative by nature.  With a Republican city councilman representing two thirds of the district, a push by republicans to win the Weiners and Pheffers seats has begun.  This race bears watching.

27th Assembly District (Formerly held by nettie Mayersohn)

The Queens Democrats nominated Michael Simanowitz, longtime chief of staff to former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, to be their candidate in the September 13th special for the 27th AD.  The Republicans have put up Marco DeSena, who was an assistant speechwriter on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign.  Mayersohn retired from the Assembly after serving 30 years.  Democratic District Leader, Simanowitz should easily prevail on Election Day.

54th Assembly District (Formerly held by Darryl Towns)

In Brooklyn, Darryl Towns left his seat in the 54th Assembly District (Bushwick, East New York Cypress Hills to become the Commissioner of the NYS Homes and Community Renewal.  Three candidates—each with support from a different faction are in the running:  Deirdra Towns, the former Assembly member’s sister and daughter of the district’s U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns; Jesus Gonzalez, an organizer with Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for immigrants; and Rafael Espinal, chief of staff for City Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan.

This race comes down to a battle between Kings County Democratic Leader Vito Lopez, Senator Martin Dilan and his son Councilman Erik Dilan versus Congressman Ed Towns and his politically astute family.  There will be no punches pulled in this political battle of heavyweights.

73rd Assembly District (Formerly held by Jonathan Bing)

Manhattan Republicans have named attorney Paul Niehaus as their candidate for the Upper East Side seat recently vacated by Democrat Jonathan Bing, who was appointed superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau by Gov. Cuomo.  Dan Quart was officially selected as the Democratic nominee.

While Democrats have a near three-to-one enrollment advantage over Republicans in the district, it’s important to note that Bing’s predecessor was a Republic – John Ravitz, who held the seat for 12 years until he made an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate and then took a short-lived job as executive director of the city’s Board of Elections.

New Elected Officials Representing the Medical Center

The election of Andrew Cuomo as Governor set off a chain reaction that has lead to a new State Senator and new Assemblyman to represent Northern Manhattan in Albany.  When then Attorney General Cuomo announced he was running for Governor, State Senator Eric Schneiderman jumped into the race to replace him.  After a hard fought primary and a win in November, he was elected as the State’s new chief legal officer.  Senator Schneiderman had represented the medical center area in the State Senate for twelve years and by running for higher office, created an open seat in the State Senate.  Local Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat threw his hat in the ring and was elected to the State Senate.  Former New York City Councilman Guillermo Linares was elected to the State Assembly to fill the open seat.  Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell returns to Albany once again.

Census Results:  New York will Lose Two House Seats

New York State will lose two of its twenty-nine seats in the United States House of Representatives.  The last time New York had only twenty-seven House seats was in the early 1820s, when the chamber had 181 members.

The census figures usher in a once-a-decade process in which state legislatures must redraw boundaries for Congressional districts on the basis of population changes.  There are 435 seats in the House.  The losses in New York are due to a continuing shift of population toward the South and the West.  Although New York State’s population growth in the South and the West.

With control of the Assembly and Senate split, it is possible that Republican and Democratic leaders will fail to reach a compromise on drawing new lines.  If that happens, the courts could step in and draw new Congressional lines for New York, an outcome that political leaders will almost certainly try to avoid.

Political leaders in Albany are under pressure to adopt a nonpartisan commission to handle redistricting, primarily from a civic coalition organized by Edward I. Koch, the former New York mayor.  But lawmakers have previously resisted any efforts to force them to surrender the power of redrawing the state’s political map.


Working Families and Conservative Parties Fight to Save Themselves

Among the many things that will be decided in the November elections is the fate of two of New York’s minor, and until recently, fairly influential, political parties  -- the Conservative Party and the Working Families Party (WFP).  Under New York State law, in order to maintain a guaranteed ballot line for the next four years, a party’s candidate for Governor must get at least 50,000 votes.  As happened in the 1990s to the Liberal Party, if the gubernatorial nominee does not get that many votes, none of the party’s candidates, for any office, will have an automatic place on the ballot.  Without such a placement, it is almost impossible for a party to survive.

Normally this is not an issue as the parties usually just cross endorse major party candidates, with the Democratic candidate also appearing on the WFP line and the Republican candidate also appearing on the Conservative party line.  Enough supporters always vote for the candidate on the minor line to maintain the guaranteed ballot placement.

That is not how things are working out this year.  Believing that former Congressman Rick Lazio would win the Republican nomination handily, the Conservative party backed him early on.  Andrew Cuomo, seeking to portray himself as a moderate and avoid the taint that of scandal that has been associated recently with the WFP, refused to accept the WFP endorsement, at first.  The party originally chose Kenneth Schaeffer, a Manhattan attorney, as its nominee for Governor, but without a major party nominee running on its line, it would be very difficult for either party to reach the 50,000 threshold.

Once a candidate is nominated, a party cannot simply switch nominees, nor can the candidate drop out.  His/her or name will appear on the ballot and the only way off is for the candidate to die, move out of state, or get nominated for a judgeship.  Assuming that neither Mr. Lazio nor Mr. Schaeffer were amenable to the first two options, that left only the judgeship route. 

In order to assure its survival, the WFP, agreed to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign platform, including items such as a property tax cap, spending cuts, and further pension reform.  Normally these are anathema to the left leaning WFP, but they agreed.  Mr. Schaeffer was nominated for a judgeship and Mr. Cuomo agreed to accept the WFP nomination.

Mr. Lazio is not an attorney, so the judgeship route is not available to him, so he is faced with a difficult choice.  He can continue his campaign and fight, not to win, but just to get 50,000 votes.  In doing so he would take votes away from the Republican nominee Carl Palidino, who is already an underdog, and incur the wrath of many Republicans.  Alternatively, he can suspend his campaign.  He name would still be on the ballot, but he would not attract many votes, but by doing so, he would all but assure the destruction of the Conservative Party which backed him early on.  Stay tuned.


Several Hotly Contested Races Make This a Very Interesting Election Season in Northern Manhattan

The series of falling dominos started by Governor David Paterson’s decision not to run for reelection has landed in Washington Heights/Inwood.  Attorney General Andrew became the Democratic candidate for Governor leaving a wide open contest to fill his slot at the State’s top lawyer. Among the five Democrats running is New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who represents the 31st district which includes Northern Manhattan.

Several candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to take Senate Schneiderman’s seat, including local Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat.  The other candidates are local district leader Mark Levine, Anna Lewis of the Upper West Side, and Miosotiz Munoz who used to work for Congressman Rangel.  Assemblyman Espaillat cannot run for reelection at the same time he is running for Senate so his seat becomes open.  Former local City Councilman Guillermo Linares is running for the Assembly seat, as is former Assemblyman Nelson Denis, who used to represent a district in Spanish Harlem, Julissa Gomez, Gabriella Rosa, and Wyatt Johnson.  In both these seats, winning the September 14th Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the election.

There are also statewide elections for both United States Senate seats, Lieutenant Governor, and State Comptroller.  In Northern Manhattan, Congressman Charles B. Rangel is facing his toughest reelection challenge in years, with several candidates seeking to unseat him in the Democratic primary.  On the State level, Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell of Northern Manhattan is also facing a tough challenge.  In Harlem, Basil Smikle is giving incumbent State Senator Bill Perkins a strong run for his money.  Mr. Smikle has the support of many charter school supporters.

The last day to register to vote for the primary is August 20th.  The deadline for the November 2nd general election is October 8th.

111th Congressional Casualty List

Running for Senate
Reps. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Paul Hodes (D-NH), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Charlie Melancon (D-LA), Joe Sestak (PA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Castle (R-DE), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)

Running for Other Office
Reps. Gresham Barrett (R-SC), Mary Fallin (R-OK), Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Zach Wamp (R-TN), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Adam Putman (R-FL) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

Defeated in Primary
Reps. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Parker Griffith (R-AL)
Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA), Bob Bennett (R-UT)

Defeated for Other Office
Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL)

Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA), Marion Berry (D-AR), Bart Gordon (D-TN), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Vic Snyder (D-AR), John Tanner (D-TN), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), David Obey (D-WI), Henry Brown (R-AR), Steve Buyer (R-IN), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), George Radanovich (R-CA), John Shadegg (R-AZ), John Linder (R-GA), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), Diane Watson (D-CA)
Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Roland Burris (D-IL), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Kit Bond (R-MO), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Judd Gregg (R-NH), George Voinovich (R-OH), George LeMieux (R-FL)

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HA), succeeded by Charles Djou (R)
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), succeeded by Theodore E. Deutch (D)
Reps. Eric Massa (D-NY), Nathan Deal (R-GA), Mark Souder (R-II)

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), succeeded by Mark Critz (D)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), succeeded by Scott Brown (R)

Election Results – And The Winners Are . . . .

Surprising most observers who felt that New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg would cruise to reelection, William Thompson, came within 5% of upsetting the Mayor’s bid for a third term.  The victory makes Mayor Bloomberg the first New York City Mayor elected to a third term since Ed Koch in 1985.  Mr. Thompson put up a valiant fight considering he had less than $10 million to spend on the campaign, compared to the over $100 million that the Mayor’s campaign had.

Voters also chose Queens Councilman John Liu as the next New York City Comptroller, making him the first Asian-American to win a citywide election.   Brooklyn Councilman Bill DiBlasio won easily as New York City Public Advocate.  These two opponents of the term limit extension will keep the pressure on Mayor Bloomberg over the next four years.  One or both could emerge as a candidate for the next Mayoral race.

Voters elected the biggest crop of new City Council Members since 2001.  At least 13 of the 51 members elected will be freshmen.  Five beat incumbents in the September Democratic Primary.  Two incumbents in Queens beat back tough challengers.  Republican Eric Ulrich defeated Frank Gulluscio 59 - 41% in the 32nd Council District and Democrat Elizabeth Crowley beat back former Councilman Tom Ognibene, 59 – 41%.  Republicans also won two other races in Queens.  Republican Dan Halloran defeated Kevin Kim in the 19th Council District and Republican Peter Koo beat Democrat Yen Chou to replace John Liu in Flushing.

For the first time, white City Council Members will be in the minority 23 – 28.  Margaret Chin, born in Hong Kong, is the first Asian-American to win the Manhattan Chinatown seat.  Two gay men from Queens, Daniel Dromm and James Van Bramer easily won their races.

Cyrus Vance was elected New York County District Attorney, replacing Robert Morgenthau.  All New York City Borough Presidents easily won re-election.

Outside of New York City Independents who swept Barack Obama to a historic 2008 victory broke big for Republicans on Tuesday as the GOP wrested political control from Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, a troubling sign for the President and his party heading into an important midterm election year.

Conservative Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory in the Virginia Governor’s race over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, and moderate Republican Chris Christie’s ouster of unpopular New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was a double-barreled triumph for a party looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008.

Rodriguez Wins City Council Primary


Ydanis Rodriguez emerged as the winner in an eight person Democratic primary race for the 10th district of the New York City Council.  Much of the Medical Center is located in the 10th district.  As the 10th district usually votes Democratic and there is not even a Republican challenger on the ballot, Mr. Rodriguez is all but certain to be elected to the City Council in November.             

Mr. Rodriguez, who had run unsuccessfully for the seat in the past, is one of the founding teachers of Gregorio Luperon High School, a school dedicated to the educational success of new immigrant families.   A native of the Dominican Republic, he now lives in the Marble Hill section of the district.


Mr. Rodriquez had been running to defeat incumbent Miguel Martinez.  The seat became open when Councilman Martinez abruptly resigned and pleaded guilty in federal court to misuse of government funds.  Mr. Rodriguez was able to secure the support of many local elected officials and community leaders and won with over 60% of the vote.  Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding his election, Mr. Rodriquez could be sworn in just after his anticipated victory in November, thus giving him seniority over his freshman City Council colleagues who will have to wait until January to take office.

Denny Farrell Hands Reins to Keith Wright

After twenty eight years leading the New York County Democratic Committee, Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell has stepped down as Chair.  When asked about his proudest achievements, he joked “getting out alive and unindicted.”  Assemblyman Farrell will remain in the Assembly and also remain as Chairman of the highly influential Ways and Means Committee.

His exit clears the way for his colleague, Assemblyman Keith Wright of Harlem to take the reins.  He has been grooming Assemblyman Wright to take over the county organization for some time.

Local City Councilman Resigns, Pleads Guilty to Fraud

New York City Councilman Miguel Martinez resigned from his office on July 15th.  The next day he pled guilty in Federal Court to stealing more than $100,000 that was intended for local community groups.  Through his position on the City Council, Mr. Martinez was able to secure government funding for the Upper Manhattan Council Assisting Neighbors, an organization he helped found and on whose board his sister sat.  Instead of going to help the community, the money was funneled back into bank accounts he controlled.  He carried out a similar scheme with Washington Heights Arts Center and also submitted false invoices to the City Council.  According to the New York Times, he faces up to six years in prison.

No stranger to controversy, Mr. Martinez has previously been investigated by the New York City Campaign Finance Board for irregularities and had paid nearly $50,000 in fines.  First elected in 2001, he was running for reelection this year.  Under New York law his campaign can name a successor candidate and former Councilman Guillermo Linares is likely to run for the seat.  Other candidates include, Ydanis Rodriguez, who lost to Martinez in 2001 and was challenging him again this year, and Community Board 12 Chair and local Assistant Principal, Manny Velazquez.


Musical Chairs at the Capitol

In late May, within the course of a few hours, Governor David Paterson’s office announced that Insurance Superintendent, Eric Dinallo was leaving the Administration for a teaching job at New York University and that State Tax Commissioner, Robert Megna would become the State’s new Budget Director.  In addition to these two, word leaked out that Governor Paterson’s Press Secretary, Errol Cockfield, would leave for another job within the Administration.  Indications were that Mr. Dinallo’s departure was the most noteworthy and a clear sign that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will challenge Paterson in a 2010 Primary.  That is because Dinallo, who was deeply involved in the State’s work with the Federal government to bail out the insurance giant AIG, is increasingly cited as a possible Attorney General candidate should Mr. Cuomo run for Governor.  Dinallo declined to comment on that situation.  Sources said Cockfield was headed for a position in the Governor’s Inter-governmental Affairs operation under Deputy Secretary Marty Mack.  The appointment of Mr. Megna as the new Budget Director was not unexpected since his name was on the short list to replace former Director Laura Anglin who is headed off to become President of CICU, the Commission on Independent College and Universities.



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Last updated 9/17/ 2014

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