Friday, September 11, 2009

The Top 3 NYC Races You Didn’t Know About

Today WAYLA reports on local politics from New York City.

Many political junkies in the U.S. are at least somewhat familiar with the mayoral race in the nation’s largest city. Incumbent Michael Bloomberg directed the City Council to extend term limits so they could all serve an extra four years. Since then, Bloomberg’s campaign has actually been looking less hot despite spending millions of dollars for his re-election.

But there are even more heated and competitive races throughout the city at the moment that political geeks living outside the Big Apple are probably unaware of. This preview comes as Democratic Party candidates - whose party dominates the city’s political field - gear up for a primary election on Tuesday.

These are what we consider the three most interesting races…

City Comptroller

For what the New York Times calls "one of the most important jobs" in the city, the race to replace incumbent Bill Thompson (who is running for mayor) has been contentious and too close to call.

The four candidates are Queens Council members Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin and Brooklyn Council member David Yassky. Katz, Liu, and Yassky have been about even in the polls and Weprin is not far behind. As Comptroller, they would oversee billions of dollars, but they’ve all been under scrutiny (in part from each other) for being bad with money.

From a New York Daily News article about a recent Comptroller debate:

The evening revealed some interesting tidbits about the field.

Weprin has been audited - and he, Liu and Yassky have bounced personal checks…

…Katz revealed she'd gotten in over her head with credit card debt in college.

But perhaps the most interesting attack from the night came from Weprin regarding Liu’s childhood.

Weprin went after Liu, who has made the story of his immigrant family's struggles - including what he said was his and his mother's work in a sweatshop - a cornerstone of his campaign.

His parents debunked that claim in an interview with the Daily News, saying he'd mostly helped his mother at home where she took in piecework.

As Liu stuck with his story Thursday night, Weprin demanded to know if Liu had taken any action to address child labor or report the sweatshop he worked in.

"So it's safe to say the answer was no, you didn't report it," Weprin asked after Liu said he had been just a child at the time.

Unless one of the four candidates can break 40% in Tuesday’s primary, the top two candidates will face each other in a run-off. At this point, it doesn’t seem unlikely.

Manhattan District Attorney

In another highly contentious open-seat race, three Democrats are vying to replace 34-year incumbent Robert Morgenthau.

Returning from her unsuccessful challenge to her boss in 2005, Leslie Crocker Snyder - who founded the Sex Crimes Protection Bureau in the district attorney's office - is facing former prosecutor Cy Vance and former Brady Campaign president Richard Aborn.

Vance - who many see as “the progressive” in the race - has earned the endorsement of the popular Morgenthau. He and Snyder have recently been racking up union endorsements, and Aborn touts his endorsement from former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The race has become pretty ugly between Snyder and Vance. Snyder recently released an ad that attacked Vance to this effect:

“When crime was high in Manhattan, what did the candidate for district attorney do? Cy Vance Jr. fled to Seattle for 17 years to make millions defending criminals, mobsters, murderers, helping doctors who defrauded Medicare.”

Her literature also hit Vance pretty hard - so it wasn’t surprising when she made the accusation that Vance’s campaign canvassers were actually stealing it following lit drops. The Vance campaign cannot say whether or not it’s true, but his campaign manager told the Daily News “It is ironic that the Snyder campaign, which has sent at least five negative mailers about Cy, is now accusing our campaign of using dirty tricks.”

At this point, it is simply too difficult to say who is in the lead.

City Council - District 10

While a great many City Council races this year have been interesting, few compare to the packed race for Council in District 10. The district - which encompasses a large area of northern Manhattan and is at least 75% Dominican - has become an open-seat since it was vacated by disgraced Council member Miguel Martinez.

While many members of the Council have been involved in a city-wide slush fund scandal - which may even include Council Speaker Christine Quinn - the brunt of the consequences came down on Martinez, who has since resigned and pled guilty to the charges against him. That left the seat crowded with eight Democratic candidates - six of whom have held no previous office.

So far the race has seen every campaign tactic conceivable: direct mail, phone banks, robo-calls, newspaper ads, signs in storefront windows, and lots and lots of creative campaign visibility.

The media-proclaimed frontrunner has been community activist Ydanis Rodriguez - and it seems like a reasonable label. With the networks he built from his two previous campaigns for this seat, he started with a war chest of over $150,000 and endorsements from key politicians (such as Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat), several unions, and the Working Families Party.

But in the months since Martinez resigned, the presence of Rodriguez in the district has only matched that of some of his opponents, including Community Board Chair Manny Velazquez, attorney Richard Realmuto (an HSG client), teacher Cleofis Sarete, and architect Luis Facundo.

At this point, any of these candidates could walk away with the win on Tuesday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"At this point, any of these candidates could walk away with the win on Tuesday." However, that person will be YDANIS RODRIGUEZ because he really is the who our community needs as our next City Council for Dist. #10.