A Rory Pause
The latest rumor in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 9th Congressional District is that Party Leader Joe Crowley’s choice has narrowed to either Assemblyman David Weprin or Assemblyman Rory Lancman.
Rumor is that Councilman Mark Weprin is backing his brother.
The other day, I made the case for Weprin
How does Lancman stack up?
As I noted, the Jewish social services establishment is anxious that this district may be eliminated in reapportionment, and the Republicans are exploiting that anxiety, saying (perhaps not untruthfully) that the district stands a better chance of survival if it elects a Republican.
The other day, I noted that Weprin has always been deeply connected to the Queens Jewish communities, and as the City Council’s Finance Chair, served as the Citywide conduit for massive infusions of cash into the City’s network of Jewish social services, where he was considered a hero.
Lancman surely has a good relationship with these people, but in no way can he come close to measuring up to Weprin.
Like Weprin, Lancman is an Orthodox Jew who is mostly a social liberal, but Lancman’s surely raised pandering to the Zionist Right to a high art.
Being a more centrist Zionist, I’d normally be critical of such an approach, but in this district it’s a plus, but I doubt that Weprin’s stance is really very different.
At any rate, the difference on the religious conservatism score is that Weprin, who carried Dov Hikind’s Assembly District in his race for Comptroller, has developed relationships in Brooklyn that Lancman has not.
In fact, truth be told, Weprin’s developed relationships in Queens that Lancman has not.
In this race, the Orthodox establishment and the Jewish social services establishment, are key and Weprin’s the candidate whose closest to them.
Without a strong Orthodox and Russian Jewish vote, there is no GOP scenario for victory in this district, and Weprin‘s nomination would put such a scenario into extremis. .
Lancman also lacks has some of Weprin’s other advantages.
Unlike Weprin, Lancman’s mother does not come from Cuba, which surely will help Weprin in the district’s small but growing Latino sector.
Lancman also lacks Weprin’s ties with the City’s various establishments, developed when Weprin was the City Council Finance Chair.
Like Weprin, Lancman can be sold to voters as a guy who might stay, because he just might.
But Lancman is a little less good on having fallback scenarios.
The nomination for an Assembly vacancy in Queens is determined by the area's Democratic District Leaders, who, in Weprin’s AD, are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Weprin family.
Assemblyman David Weprin could go to DC, be replaced by a loyal District Leader, and then, if the Congressional seat gets eliminated, he might be able to get his successor to take a dive so he could go back.
This seems a less likely fallback for Lancman.
As I’ve noted, Weprin’s late father Saul was practically the only outer-borough Jewish state legislator to back Mario Cuomo against Koch in the 1982 primary for Governor and David ended up Deputy Banking Commissioner at age 28, with Saul ending up as Speaker.
The Cuomos are a family known for keeping their friends close, so that might be a fallback for Weprin as well.
There is no such scenario for Lancman, making his potential challenge of another Democratic incumbent far more likely.
If I were Joe Crowley, who, as a member of Congress himself, faces pressure from the Democratic Leadership in Washington, there is no doubt I’d find Rory Lancman to be a good candidate.
But there is even less doubt that I’d find David Weprin to be a better one.