City & State: This Week’s Political Winners and Losers

Written by City & State on . Posted in Politics.


Photo-JIMI CELESTE/patrickmcmullan.com

There’s a possible hurricane headed for the Republican convention in Tampa and across the rest of the country, tempests were escaping the confines of their teapots, from Rep. Todd Akin’s gaffe factory to a couple of Congress members’ drunk and ‘nekkid’ swimming in the Holy Land. Back here in New York, we waited for the threat of campaign weather to reach us. With our Greek yogurts in hand, we set about tallying up the winners, and their occasionally cringe-inducing counterparts, the losers.

 

WINNERS

Andrew Gounardes - The Democratic state senate candidate’s campaign received a major boost when the AFL-CIO endorsed him over state Sen. Marty Golden. It’s not quite the buzz he received from Golden’s “Feminine Presence” workshop proposed earlier this summer, and Golden still has a cash advantage, with about $455,000 to spend, compared with Gounardes’s $156,000 on hand, but if labor begins to line up behind the challenger, Golden could be in trouble this fall.

Anthony Masiello - The buzz is building for former Buffalo Mayor (and Indiana Pacer) Tony Masiello to replace quasi-ousted Erie County Democratic chair Len Lenihan. Governor Cuomo, who is no fan of Lenihan’s, has all but announced that Masiello is his top pick to take over the county post, and though other candidates have expressed interest in the job, none has Masiello’s profile and clout in the region. Masiello hasn’t said whether he wants the post, but his chances of scoring it are looking like a lay up.

Steve Israel - The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee received a couple of gifts from House Republicans this week, in the form of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments and headlines about members skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Akin, in particular, put Republican candidates across the country on the defensive, providing plenty of fundraising fodder for the DCCC, and bring the party’s conservative wing into the spotlight, just before the GOP convention in Tampa.

James Sanders – After the city councilman scored the endorsement of the influential Rev. Floyd Flake in his run for state Senate, his opponent, Sen. Shirley Huntley, came out with her own long list of supportive religious leaders as well as some unions and a number of elected officials – only it turned out Huntley’s list was just a little bit too long. A clergyman and a union official complained that they shouldn’t have been on the list, and even though Huntley’s camp dismissed it as an honest mistake, Sanders jumped at the chance to criticize the senator as “desperate.”

Tony Danza - Move over Malcolm Smith and Alec Baldwin! A potential New York City novelty mayoral candidate need not set up phony anti-Weezy press conferences in Times Square or punch a tabloid photographer to be a viable contender. As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Danza is considering a shot at City Hall, party affiliation to-be-determined. We can see the campaign buttons now: “Who’s the Boss?”

 

LOSERS

Michael Grimm –  The embattled congressman keeps saying there’s nothing amiss, but it must be getting harder and harder to keep a smile on his face. An alleged fundraiser was arrested, a trip to Israel was probed by the FBI, and his Democratic challenger held another press conference questioning his ethics. Grimm’s camp continues to deny any wrongdoing and to focus on the positives – more endorsements, more local projects – but what everyone’s reading about are Grimm’s shady ties and various investigations into his behavior.

 Joseph Lhota – The MTA chief had not one but two major headaches this week. First, MTA workers on the Second Avenue subway project set off a blast that was a bit too explosive, sending rocks flying across 72nd Street, smashing windows and leaving streets covered with debris. Then a judge ruled the MTA’s payroll tax unconstitutional, eliminating a key source of funding for the cash-strapped authority. The MTA will appeal the decision, but its outcome could derail Lhota’s desire to turn the MTA around just as it was looking like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Seth Diamond – One of the failures of the Bloomberg Administration has been meeting its goal of cutting homeless and shelter populations throughout the city, a target crippled by recession and further handicapped by what seems to be a lack of commitment to funding solutions for the problem. And when the mayor told reporters at a press conference yesterday that the reason people were staying longer in shelters than ever before was partly because the experience had become more “pleasurable,” he sounded out of touch. Diamond, his homeless services commissioner, has his work cut out for him if the mayor’s efforts on eradicating homelessness are ever going to make the list of Bloomberg’s legacy projects.

Robert Johnson – What’s with the District Attorneys in this town? First Charles Hynes got in trouble over accusations he’d gone easy on perpetrators of sexual crimes in Brooklyn, and now Bronx D.A. Johnson is sitting unprettily on top of a WNYC report showing his office declines to prosecute crimes if victims don’t come forward fast enough. In a borough with some of the highest crime rates in the city, Johnson’s tactics look cynical, or worse, lazy.

Ray Kelly - The NYPD’s controversial demographic surveillance program, which primarily eavesdropped on Muslim groups throughout the city, took another hit this week, when the Associated Press learned that the program has not resulted in any leads or investigations in its six-year existence. The AP’s broader Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into police spying has gotten pushback from the city’s tabloids, which have defended the NYPD under Kelly’s leadership, but the commissioner’s reputation continues to take a hit.

To vote for your pick for this week’s ultimate winner and loser visit City & State by clicking here.

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