Pants on Fire?

"When Brooklyn and Queens got together, we saw that we can work together for the common good of both counties. We were able to achieve something very special, and that was the election of the speaker of the City Council. And it was then that we saw not only the integrity of your chair, but of how well he worked with other people. And I think that we will be able to share that together when Senator Paterson becomes lieutenant governor on selecting a leader to state senate. I think we'll see Brooklyn and Queens working together again."

- Michael Reich, Executive Secretary Queens Democratic Party at the 2006 Brooklyn Democratic Dinner (6/26/06)

Let’s be charitable, and remember that he was then speaking on behalf of a different County Leader; as they say Out West, “Dead Men Seal No Deals”.


I’m embarrassed to admit that Malcolm Smith’s election as Senate Democratic Leader took me by surprise. I never saw it coming, but in my defense I’ll that neither did the Brooklyn Democratic Leader. If I known a denunciation of the race was imminent, I certainly would have expressed some thought, which doubtless would have been proven wrong.

Like many, at the beginning I thought that the numbers made a black leader likely, but Carl Andrews ran for Congress, Byron Brown went back to Buffalo, and Smith, the only other member black member of the conference considered politically formidable, had just fathered an illegitimate child, with rumors of more revelations to come. I guess he was just one lucky bastard.

I did, however, catch that the winner was not going to be David Paterson’s Deputy, Eric Schneiderman, as attested to by these posts from threads on the Politicker:  

There's a perception, that I've shared, that Democrats have basically written off their hopes of retaking the State Senate this year, and aren't raising much money for the effort.

But a source tells me that some top Democratic fundraisers gathered at Bill Samuels's Manhattan apartment Monday evening to talk about the senate campaigns with Spitzer, Paterson, and Eric Schneiderman.

i think the seante dems are rope-a-doping. they have more money now than ever. and the senate r's have much less than have had in recent years. with eliott/hillary at the top, bush in the tanks a lot of D voters will turnout and a lot R's will stay home. if they can't do it now then they probably won't get the house till 2010/2012.what *might* happen is they pick up 2 seats. morahan dies/retires. a D wins the special leaving a 1 seat margin. then i'd bet a moderate R (robach, balboni, maybe fuschillo or spano) flip in exchange for a big chairmanship (finance).

Posted by: santos | June 9, 2006
Santos: nice analysis, except that if Schniederman is the leader, the flipping is likely to go the other way.
Posted by: Gatemouth | June 9, 2006

the senate dems don't want spano or balboni. if klein or dilan take over, progressives might as well give up on the senate. the two of them are sleezy enough for 10 people. eric or liz krueger should take over, take the majority and then get rid of all the dead weight (and there's a lot of it) in their conference.

Posted by: anon | June 10, 2006

The contempt shown in your post for the members of the Senate Democratic Conference, even if deserved, is emblematic of why Schniederman is is so disliked by its membership. It is not the function of a leader to get rid of the dead weight in his conference (as opposed to damage controlling it, which is a leaders' function); the leader works for the members, not the other way around.

While folks like us do not consider servicing the needs of the Conference membership to be the highest priority a leader should be striving to achieve, the members of those conferences generally feel otherwise, and they are the ones who get to vote. People like Dilan, Klein and Connor all understand this. Schneiderman may understand it, but he gives off the impression that he doesn't care.

In choosing among the candidates, the Party's best possible hope is to find the candidate who both understands the prirorities of the conference, but also has the ability to transcend them (as opposed to ignoring them, which won't work). Whatever his flaws in achieving the goal of a majority, Connor clearly had achieving a majority as his primary goal (there are worse crimes than to overreach); whether Dilan and/or Klein share this ambition, or merely want to be king of the smaller pond is a good question, and one we can only hope the Conference's membership keeps in mind.

Posted by: Gatemouth on June 10, 2006

Gatemouth -- Schneiderman HAS worked for his conference, as Deputy Minority Leader he helped get Klein, Savino, Serano, and Valeski elected. The leaders race will not be the 2000 presidential campaign, where members vote according to who they'd want to have a beer with. They will need to figure out who can lead Dems to take the Senate so they will become Majority Senators and Committee Chairs. Schneiderman will need to address this perception of arrogance, but he is clearly the most qualified for the job. 

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2006

You may be correct in your assertion that the members will not be using who they'd rather have a drink with as the basis for their vote; I think that, in the case of at least some of the members, you may not be correct. But, even if you are right about this, you are still dead wrong. The members see their leader primarilly as a service provider; they want a leader whose first priority is to work for them. Eric just doesn't summon up the image of "Member Services with a Smile".

Schniederman can address "this perception of his arrogance" all he wants, but the results are likely to be disappointing; last week my dog tried to address the "perception that he is a canine"; his sincerity at first seemed overwhelming, but, in the end, he still chased the cat.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

of course the leader represents the conference but that doesn't mean the leader should do nothing but kiss up to his or her members. the leader is responsible to strengthen the entire conference and make everyone more effective. effective legislative leaders on all levels of government listen to their members but also expect things from them. part of the problem with the senate democrats right now is you have about 10% of the members doing all the work...the rest of them are too lazy or self-centered to really wwork for the good of the people or the good of the people of new york. of the people running for minority leader only right now, only eric is smart enough to really turn things around up there.

Posted by: anon | June 11, 2006  

Do you think you are helping Schniederman? Your comments reek of contempt for the people who will be doing the voting, and the only question is whether Klein, Connor or Dilan is first to email them out to the rest of the conference to illustrate exactly how Eric feels about them, and eaxactly how Eric's staff occupies themsleves on their days off.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

Remember, the "real" Democratic leader of the Senate has always been Eric Schneiderman, with help from Liz Krueger.

They are the only two who have the brains and the political savvy in the entire conference.

When Eric is leader, Liz and he will get the job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006

It may or may not be true, but the more they let their minions keep saying it, the less true it is. No conference elects leaders with that much contempt for its membership.

Posted by: Gatemouth | July 17, 2006