County Committee Endorsement Day

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The Day Every District Leader Waits For
As the title implies, yesterday was the day that the Executive Board of the County Committee selected it’s endorsements for the New York State elections in November. Based on the transpirings, it is definitely, as one person in the hall put it, “the day that every district leader waits for.”

Proceedings began at around 6:10 at 461 Park Ave S., the Party (AKA MYD) Headquarters, and were kicked off by the last forum for the only office not yet accounted for: Lt. Governor. Bill Samuels and Christopher St. Lawrence were both present to make remarks.

Bill Samuels
Bill Samuels first point was that the Lt. Governor’s race is inherently unfair since the nominee for Governor, whoever that may be, will ultimately suggest their pick for Lt. Governor and the party will rally around that ticket. He did not suspect that he would be that suggestion. That said, he went on to make his case for being considered as a viable option for Lt. Governor.

Samuels left no room for error, he is running as a reform candidate. Although the Lt. Governor is, essentially, a title without any formal authority, he plans to use it’s role as President of the Senate to campaign and educate about the need for reform in Albany. Samuels has been working on issues like redistricting, ethics and campaign finance reform for years and, after the 2004 Presidential election, gathered donors in 2005 to try and convince them to focus, not just on the state wide and Federal races, but on the NY legislature as well. He impetus was, as he told then Governor Spitzer, that unless there were reform in the legislature he could only be a good Governor, not a great one. He is carrying that belief forward to Andrew Cuomo who he also thinks will be hampered by a corrupt and defunct senate if change isn’t forced upon it.

Samuels personally defines the role of the Lt. Governor as “making our legislature the best in country.” He’s already committed himself to this by fundraising not just for himself, but for two other insurgent candidates who show promise of removing defunct legislatures. To these carefully selected candidates he will award his resources for a top to bottom campaign, including a Democratic ground game, eschewing reliance on the WFP. He’s already dedicated whichever successor to Espada ends up with the mantle of challenger. If elected to the Lt. Governoship, Samuels will refuse to be a “miscellaneous Lt. Governor….given some miscellaneous projects”, instead he believe the Lt. Governor should be a strong, independent figure and will use whatever attention and political capital he has to push for reform. He further mentioned that, even if the Democrats hold the majority in the next election, they should not be tempted to abandon the principles of even and fair governance, especially in redisctricting. He believes the Democratic party has already suffered a tremendous political hit by accepting Espada and Monserrate back into the fold because it’s cost it serious credibility as the part of reform.

Christopher St. Lawrence
Christopher St. Lawrence is the supervisor (executive) of Ramapo township. After watching companies pack up and leave New York State, and working successfully to keep Avon, and its jobs, in Ramapo, St. Lawrence is taking the jobs creation issue to the Lt. Governor’s campaign. St. Lawrence says that as Lt. Governor he would strictly about job creation incentivizing. He thinks that New York is a great state whose potential isn’t being tapped. He wants to serve a spokesperson for the quality of our workers and our CUNY and SUNY system, turning that network of schools into a network for economic growth. He says that businesses are leaving because of the climate and even more are being scared away by the state of state politics – he proposes that the Lt. Governor serve as a representative and a new face on democratic politics in NY.

To achieve his goal, St. Lawrence has been traveling the state. “I’m talking to ever Democrat and Democratic leader” and his attentiveness to the locals is to what he posits his winning of the Democratic rural caucus’ endorsement by 60%. As an executive, St. Lawrence also feels that he has a unique perspective, especially when it comes to balancing multiple needs. He wants to serve as a voice for all the mayors, supervisors and other executives throughout the state.

St.Lawrence also beleives that New York State has too many prisons and that incarcerating such a large percentage of our populations, more per capita than any other place on earth, is a waste. Instead, new opportunities should be opened up and prisons closed. He also mentioned that, like Malcolm Smith, he thinks that Republicans should be redistricted out of existence.

Albany Update
As we might expect, the legislature is trying to get a budget together but, unfortunately, the Senate and the Assembly are not really talking to each other. The Senate wants a property-tax rebate and the Assembly wants to pay for the State’s costs. In particular, a couple of new taxes have been floated and County Leader Wright is personally in favor of the very reasonable sugar tax (although the Senate is not) which he likens to the taxes we already have on tobacco products. Ironically, he noted that the cost of of the anti-sugar tax commercials probably cost more than the tax would.

Finally, County Leader Wright noted that a late budget does not bode well for either house. “I’ve had to explain bad budgets but it’s hard to explain no budget.”

Judicial Nominations Update
The Judiciary Committee has convened a panel which will meet May, 27 where the 12 candidates for civil court judge at the county wide level will be allowed to speak.

The Endorsements
The order of motions and endorsements have been recorded. In the interest of space and the fact that it’s really not that interesting, I’ll just list the endorsements. EXCEPT, the one notable event came when nominations were brought for Attorney General. The Law Chair asked “Are there any nominations for Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General” at which point a healthy debate ensued as to whether calling that question before all others gave Schniederman undue advantage. You’ll be happy to know that it was decided that it did and the question was changed to “Are there any nominations for Attorney General” at which point nominations were made and votes cast for each candidate in turn. There was also a spirited debate as to whether a candidate for Governor should be endorsed even though no candidate has declared. Some felt all savvy politicos should know who’s running, other felt that candidate was “running as royalty” and should be forced to declare, debate and deal with it. There was also a heavy preference for incumbents. You may find the results below:

  • Lt. Governor: motion not to endorse passes
  • Governor: Andrew Cuomo
  • Comptroller: Thomas DiNapoli
  • Attorney General: Eric Schniederman
  • 8th Congressional District: Jerry Nadler
  • 12th Congressional District: Nydia Velazquez
  • 14th Congressional District: Carolyn Maloney
  • 15th Congressional District: Charlie Rangel