Gatemouth’s Voter’s Guide (Part Three-The State Senate)

"You are a Saul Bellow character...fixated, detail-oriented, obsessive interiority" 

-Ben Smith (The Daily News)

Everything I think relevant about the State Legislature is probably encompassed in these pieces:

Albany Primer - Why Does NYC Get Screwed at Budget Time
Settling for the Steak Knives
Don't Print the Legend - The Real Story of the Commuter Tax

To the extent that I’ve recommended candidates here, it is mostly in the spirit of trying to make the best of a bad situation, although when applied to some of these races, that would be an optimistic assessment.  Our legislature is reflective of the state in the same way a mirror would be if it was glued together after being smashed with a ball peen hammer.  While viewing it as a whole may be frightening, looking at it piece by piece does not necessarily provide any additional illumination, as the whole is less than the sum of its parts, given that only two of those parts are usually operable. The Senate may be the bigger problem, but in some ways this is like drawing the distinction between Leopold and Loeb.

10th SD (Queens): The incumbent is Ada Smith, who recently took a plea to charges of attacking an aide with a hot caffeinated beverage. Then, in a move evincing a stunning lack of judgment and common sense, Smith appeared on television to defend herself in the company of the thoroughly pompous and repugnant Ravi Batra, who proceeded to dedicate more time and effort to selling himself than to defending his client, but accomplished neither. Sadly, “Javagate” is only the latest in a long series of such incidents beginning while Ms. Smith was serving as a Deputy City Clerk. Smith won her first election to the Senate by beating a convicted felon and a man who’d once attacked a political opponent with a baseball bat (they were collectively known as “batman and robber”). Her luck in drawing quality opponents nearly continued this year; readers who are critical of ballot access challenges should note that only such a disqualification spared us the spectacle of a race between Smith and Former City Councilman Allen Jennings, which likely would have required the first ever Voter’s Guide containing court-ordered forensic evaluations by psychiatric experts. It is clearly time for voters to “wake up and smell the coffee”. The remaining candidate against Senator Smith is Shirley Huntley. I know almost nothing about Ms Huntley, and if I were a voter in this district I’d make sure to learn as little as possible, thereby making a choice a lot easier.  

13th SD (Queens): John Sabini seems to be a decent and thoughtful guy; Hiram Monserrate seems like a showboating bag of wind. I am, however, open to arguments to the contrary by those more familiar with the subject matter.

18th SD (Brooklyn):  Those of us who are sick and tired of “Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s (DDDB) one-issue politics distorting our local political landscape with club-packing and character assassination now get the chance to see it's funhouse-mirror reflection, as Bruce Ratner puts up Tracy Boyland against anti-Ratner incumbent Velmanette Montgomery.  I will avoid the temptation to engage in schaudefreude, and will merely express the hope that that Bruce's minions, unlike DDDB’s, will refrain from commenting about the size of my genitalia, or that of Ben Smith. MESSAGE TO RATNER: Bruce, this is a really piss-poor way to win friends and influence people. Previously only one side of this debate had been their own worst enemies.

That being said, I personally like both these ladies, and actually voted for Boyland to be my member of Congress. Since that time, Tracy’s occasionally said something that makes me cringe and momentarily regret having voted for her; on the other hand, when Major Owens’ opens his mouth, he never makes me regret having voted for Tracy.

Velmanette Montgomery is well meaning, although sometimes seems a little spacey, but this ultimately comes down to sending messages, and on both counts, this benefits Montgomery. MESSAGE ONE: While the best resolution to Atlantic Yards is a “mend it, don’t end it” downsizing encompassed by neither candidate, defeating the anti-Yards incumbent who represents the site would be counterproductive to accomplishing the goal of real downsizing, leaving us with only the phony compromise Marty Markowitz had already drawn up with Ratner’s agreement before they released the original plan. MESSAGE TWO: outsiders with a vested interest in a specific project should not be encouraged in their efforts to game the political process.      

20th SD (Brooklyn): Eric Adams gets coronated; I “cop” an attitude, and bring up some inconvenient facts; no one cares.

21st SD (Brooklyn): The good news is that incumbent Kevin Parker has taken anger management classes; the bad news is that his instructor was Ada Smith. Luckily for Senator Parker, his challenger is Former City Councilman Noach Dear. There is an unfair tendency to compare Mr. Dear to Assemblyman Dov Hikind; Mr. Hikind is an ideologue; Mr. Dear is a whore. Given the right-wing views which Dear and Hikind hold in common, the fact that Dear is a strumpet may, at times, actually be a point in Dear’s favor. In this case, though it is a distinction without a difference, as the end result would be exactly the same; if the majority in the Senate is ever at stake, Dear will surely conference with the Republicans, and his vote will always be available for their purposes. For the reasons why this would be a bad thing, see: As such, this primary is really the general election, and Mr, Parker must be regarded as the Democratic candidate. Vote for the Democrat; it’s important.

24th SD (Staten Island):  The retiring incumbent is named John Marchi, and he was a giant. Marchi was elected to the Senate in 1956, before most of us were born; he was the Republican mayoral candidate in 1969 (beating a sitting Mayor in the primary), and again in 1973. In the late seventies, as the Chair of the Senate’s Finance Committee, he helped save the City from bankruptcy. Although I'm pro-choice, I admire Marchi as practically the only genuine right-to-lifer in the NYS legislature: he opposes both abortion AND capital punishment (hardly a popular stance on his island, and one which nearly lost him re-election in 1978). Whether you agree with him or not (and I don't), his opposition to the McBride Principles was courageous in an area with so many Irish-Americans, especially since it conveyed him no political advantage whatsoever. The same holds true with his public pronouncements against the Italian-American Civil Rights League for its mob connections. Once the Island spread into a second seat, Marchi was always generously helpful to whichever Democrat represented the North Shore, and Marchi usually had the decency to distance himself from the worst of the mobsters (some in every sense of the word) running the local Republican Party. A top aide, Robert Helbock, is running, promising to continue the Marchi legacy, but would likely be a pretty conventional Republican Senator (if somewhat smarter than the average).

 The Democrats have a good candidate, Mathew Titone, from a popular Staten Island family. However, the Democrats would be hard-pressed to win this seat if their candidate had a wife and 2.4 kids; Titone is openly gay, and Staten Islanders have traditionally preferred their gay elected officials to remain closeted so they can have something to talk about in bars (“Yeah, I know the Beep’s endorsed McCain, but I think his daughter prefers Bush, HAW HAW!”).  Yes, I know Staten Islanders support gay people being able to marry each other, but only gay women marrying gay men.

In this Republican Primary for a seat likely to stay Republican, one candidate, Councilman Andrew Lanza, is being attacked for his frequent absences from his official duties. Given the havoc wrecked upon our City by the State Senate’s Republican Majority (see,, nominating Lanza would seem a worthy effort at damage control, provided he promised not to improve his attendance.   

25th SD (Manhattan, Brooklyn): The Marty Connor/Ken Diamondstone race is probably the nastiest in the city involving white people whose first language is English. As a rule, Gate prefers smart, grumpy curmudgeons to starry eyed, far left wing ideologues ungrounded by reality. Those who feel otherwise are free to dance to a different drummer, your site is here: Those who prefer my slant on things can read:, which  contains a discussion of the candidates, buried deep within; also relevant is, which deals with the only substantive issue raised in this race, and finds it largely lacking in substance.  

36th SD (Bronx, Westchester): This year’s “thank you mam, may I have another” award goes to Crystal Wade (but Richard Taylor in Brooklyn’s 56th AD may have retired the cup). Most of this district is in the Bronx; the incumbent Ruth Hassell-Thompson comes from Mount Vernon. Two years ago, Senator Thompson was challenged by Wade, a city resident. Wade was beaten by almost two to one just in the district’s Bronx portion, which was supposed to be her base. She now seeks a do-over; hope springs eternal.

See Also:


A PLEA FROM GATE: I know many will find something to be angry about here. Please feel free to disagree in harsh tones. Just make it about the substance; Gur is on alert and personal attacks will be zapped; banishment may also be considered.