Today the city of New York, badly strapped for cash, spent $15 million+ to hold a runoff election in the Democratic primary for Comptroller and Public Advocate. Less than 250,000 people voted. And what happened? The same guys who won the primary won again. Which almost always happens in New York. In fact they often win (as happened tonight) by larger margins.
Today I went to my polling place and the place was packed. With poll workers. The only person I saw voting, at any of the booths on the way out or leaving, was me.
I think it is abundantly clear that runoffs in citywide primaries do more harm than good. Particularly when Democratic candidates have to spend money on the runoffs and can't focus on the general election.
This is one for those of you are who are experts on the State Constitution. Today Governor David Paterson, attempting to break the deadlock in the Senate, named former MTA chair and one time mayoral candidate Richard Ravitch as Lt. Governor. Paterson says there is nothing in the State Constitution which says he can't appoint a Lt. Governor.
The problem is that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says that there is nothing in the State Constitution that says that Paterson can do this. Cuomo says there will be a legal fight.
The Governor says he can appoint. The AG says he can't. Who is right here? Just because the Constitution doesn't say you can't do something, does that automatically mean you can? Is Paterson assuming powers not explicitly given to him?
Anthony Weiner announced in a Times Op-Ed piece thsi morning that he is out of this year's Mayor's race:
I think this could leave a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. There were a lot of progressive activists who worked quite hard on his campaign four years ago. Weiner made the runoff and then dropped out, telling supporters he was better positioned to run four years later (now) when the Mayor's seat was open then if he fought it to the end with Freddy Ferrer. Saving the party a costly runoff was to score points with the establishment and make him the frontrunner this year. Weiner's supporters, albeit upset that he didn't contest the runoff, at least accepted the wisdom of his argument.
Legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, nearing age 90, announced last week he is retiring. Which means that in September we will have the first open primary for the Manhattan D.A.'s job (the most prestigious and high profile public prosecutor's job in the country) in decades. This is shaping up to be one hell of a brutal race.
In one corner you have Ms. Law and Order, former Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, Morgenthau's primary opponent last time. She would appear to be the frontrunner. Crocker Snyder has even now seen the light and is now all of a sudden against the death penalty in all cases, whereas previously she had supported it in some instances. She has never stopped running for the job and her campaign is a well oiled machine.
I was interested today to find in my email something from the "Friends of Mark Green' mailing list in which they claim to be judging the interest in Green running for Public Advocate again, and pointing to an article about this in today's New York Times where he says he is thinking about it:
I have mixed feelings about this. I always felt Green was a good public advocate and he is certainly the one person most closely identified with the position. But there are also already a number of particularly good candidates running for it:
Randi Weingarten, local political activist and the longtime high profile head of the New York City teacher's union and now head of the American Federation of Teachers, has contacted Gov. Paterson to tell him that she wouldn't necessarily say 'no' if he were to offer her Hillary's Senate seat.
Weingarten would be an interesting choice. She clearly has the experience and the intelligence to make an excellent Senator, and the unions would back her strongly. She also would be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.
If Paterson wants to make a bold, yet unorthodox choice for the Senate appointment, some might think that Randi would at least bring more to the table than Caroline Kennedy.
Various articles out today, including this one in the Times, report that Caroline Kennedy is lobbying David Paterson for the job of New York's junior U.S. Senator:
Hillary's seat is of course the one that belonged to her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy was born in and has lived most of her life in New York City and is an attorney and long time political activist, who has been quietly very active in public affairs, particularly in local education issues.
On the day that Hillary Clinton was named the next Secretary of State, the drumbeat is starting over who Gov. Paterson should name as her replacement. Several respected news organizations, including the Washington Post and CNN are weighing in with a bold idea. Which is for Paterson to name Bill Clinton as his wife's replacement:
The argument goes that whoever Paterson picks will make some people happy and piss off others. In New York state's political arena Paterson doesn't need more enemies. If he picks an up stater, he upsets the downstaters. If he picks a blac, he upsets the hispanics. If he picks a hispanic he upsets the blacks. Etc. Paterson has to run for re-election in 2010 and doesn't need people holding his pick against him. The way out for Paterson is to pick someone from outside the new york political scene. Someone that none of the interested parties will argue with.
There is a story in today's Daily News that suggests that idea of a special election to vote on term limits next year is being floated:
This idea might be seen as more palatable than having the City Council revise term limits by vote.
The problem is that such a special election would end up being less about term limits than about one Michael Bloomberg. They could wait and put the referendum on the November 2009 ballot but then Bloomberg wouldn't benefit from it now would he?
Tonight Daniel Squadron in the 25th Senate district disproved one of the strongest myths in local politics, that you can't defeat a longtime entrenched incumbent in a democratic primary. Tonight Daniel Squadron retired Marty Connor!
264 of 266 precincts reporting.
Squadron - 12,688 54%
Connor - 10,757 46%
""ST. PAUL (CNN) - Bristol Palin, the 17 year old daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant and will keep the baby and marry the father, a senior McCain aide confirmed to CNN Monday.
I've been having some interesting discussions today about whether this subject is inbounds or out of bounds. Sarah Palin, the GOP vp candidate, is a right wing born again christian who opposes the right to abortion, birth control, condoms and believes kids should practice abstinence. Now it comes out she has a seventeen year old daughter who is five months pregnant, who may not have used contraceptives because her morally upright parents told her it was wrong. In my mind, if a parent has a sexually active daughter and does not give them the number for planned parenthood or get them or tell them where to get pills or condoms, it is poor parenting. You always hear these right wing evangelicals preach abstinence, as if any seventeen year old girl with a boyfriend is really going to be abstinent. Please.
This week is the Democratic Party's convention in Denver. I expect this to be quite memorable for a number of reasons. Thirty five years ago to the day of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's 'I have a Dream" speech, Barack Obama is set to become the first african american to accept the nomination of one of the major political parties to be President of the United States. It is an unbelievable case of historical coincidence. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the first words out of Barack's mouth when he takes the stage at Mile High Stadium (I refuse to refer to it by its new sponsor name), are "I have a Dream..."
There are stories in the papers today to the effect that Mayor Bloomberg and members of the City Council may be working on a plan to extend term limits through legislation by the end of the year. This way Bloomberg could run for a third term and council members about to be term limited next year might get a shot at an extra term or two. They seem to think this can be done without a public referendum to amend the city charter. I guess the thinking is that while you'd need a referendum to eliminate term limits altogether, that they could be extended through legislation.
Here are the links:
There's an interesting piece over at the nytimes web site:
This article points out that the lineups for the Democratic Convention in Denver are now pretty much set and the top speakers have been announced. We know on which nights the party's biggest stars will be speaking. With one glaring exception. Nobody has said a word about Al Gore. Nobody has said a word about his role in Denver. You would think Gore would obviously be going to Denver and they'd be insane not to have him up at the podium in prime time.
"John Edwards repeatedly lied during his Presidential campaign about an extramarital affair with a novice filmmaker, the former Senator admitted to ABC News today.
In an interview for broadcast tonight on Nightline, Edwards told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff he did have an affair with 44-year old Rielle Hunter, but said that he did not love her.
Edwards also denied he was the father of Hunter's baby girl, Frances Quinn, although the one-time Democratic Presidential candidate said he has not taken a paternity test.