Daniel L. Feldman

Posts Tagged ‘Attorney General’

The End (but not the final post)

In National Politics, NYC Politics on June 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I had selected as campaign manager a woman who had been recommended by Steve Solarz and who had run the Assembly campaign of my friend Jules Polonetsky to succeed Howard Lasher in the 46th Assembly district, just to my east. At the end of the campaign, when she claimed I owed her additional funds, my wife demanded the financial records of the campaign. In reviewing those records, she found that the campaign manager had directed substantial and unjustified sums to her husband for unclear “services” rendered to the campaign, along with other questionable expenditures. When the campaign manager returned the campaign computer to us, it had been wiped clean of records. My campaign had virtually no Election Day operation, on which I had been so heavily counting to bring in an extra percentage point or two. The campaign manager had kept me out of the headquarters, insisting that my time must be spent only on raising money and on subway, street, and door-to-door campaigning. Now I saw why: she had not wanted me to see what had been going on at headquarters.

In retrospect, I imagine that the early Global Strategies poll had encouraged her to believe that she was getting in on the ground floor with a winner. Once the Penn & Schoen results appeared, she cut her losses by grabbing as much money as possible and, perhaps, traded our campaign files to Schumer or other politicians for favors paid or owed to her.

I did not admit defeat to myself after the Penn & Schoen poll. The Post endorsement of Noach Dear did not crush my hopes either. The News never did make an endorsement. But when the Times endorsed Melinda Katz, I knew it was over. Surprisingly, the Times did not support Schumer’s candidate, although it called both Weiner and Katz “the strongest candidates” in terms of “fresh energy,” of which it said New York’s congressional delegation was “desperately in need.”  This time, it called me “a respected member of the Assembly” who had “spent nine terms working hard on issues of criminal justice and corrections.” But its endorsement of Katz was ludicrous, claiming that she had “distinguished herself as an advocate of health and women’s issues.”

Katz may have earned the second part of the Times’s praise for her: “and for her constituent services,” but I had no way of knowing whether her constituent work was in any way especially distinguished, and neither did the Times. More likely, since the Times Editorial Board felt that it could not endorse Catherine Abate for Attorney General, it thought it needed to endorse a woman in another high-profile race, and made up a rationale for so doing. Clearly, though, had it not endorsed Katz, it would have endorsed Weiner.

I had an unusually difficult job to do over the remaining five days before the primary results came in. Now I knew I would lose, but out of fairness to my supporters, volunteers, and campaign staff, I had to maintain an attitude of optimism and enthusiasm. In that I have no talent at pretending to emotions I do not feel or hiding those I do feel, I was able to do so only at the cost of tremendous effort and pain.

On primary night, I learned that I had come in last. Weiner ended up with 28 percent, Katz with 27 percent, and Dear and I with 22 percent each, but Dear having won slightly more votes.   However, as Weiner’s staff told me that night when I visited to congratulate him, I had the best favorable-to-unfavorable ratio of the candidates throughout the race, and consistently outpolled Dear (but his Election Day pulling operation must have provided his final winning margin).  Also, in the area that knew us both best – that part of the congressional district where Weiner’s Council district overlapped my Assembly district – I beat Weiner fairly handily. Those constituents did not need to base their decisions on our campaign ability, where Weiner clearly outdid me, but on our performance in office.


The NY Attorney General Campaign

In New York State Politics on August 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm

As the heaviest part of the New York political season approaches, we find ourselves beginning to think about the upcoming primaries and general election in more specific detail.

The conventional wisdom, bolstered by polls showing her far in the lead among New York Democrats, has Kathleen Rice winning the Democratic primary for State Attorney General as the sitting District Attorney of Nassau County and the only woman of the five primary candidates.

The conventional wisdom may well be wrong, as Steve Greenberg of the Siena College Poll explained in remarks at a New York State Bar Association event at its headquarters in Albany last month. He pointed out that since Andrew Cuomo has no primary opponent for the Democratic nomination for Governor, and neither Charles Schumer nor Kirsten Gillibrand has a primary opponent for Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator, if history is any guide, turnout for the September 14 Democratic primary will be very low. When no one runs commercials or other high-decibel campaign efforts for the highest-profile jobs, most Democrats don’t pay enough attention to vote in their primary.

Under those circumstances, popularity among the mass of New York State Democrats means very little. What matters is popularity among those Democrats likely to vote despite the absence of primary campaigns for the top spots.

Which Democrats tend to vote under those circumstances? Answer: the most liberal Democrats, union members, and voters in neighborhoods where local candidates in primaries for the State Assembly and/or State Senate are pulling out their supporters. Greenberg noted that all three of those categories favor State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who has the most liberal support, the most union support, and many Democrats vying in primaries for nomination to legislative seats within his base of support in Manhattan and the Bronx.

State Senator Eric Schneiderman

On August 21, Schneiderman received the endorsement of The New York Times, the first, earliest endorsement the Times has made in this year’s races, giving Schneiderman plenty of time to trumpet the endorsement throughout the State. From the body of the endorsement, it appears that at least one other candidate came close to persuading the Times editorial board to do otherwise. His victory in winning the support of the Times reinforces the credibility of Greenberg’s prediction, and makes it less likely that other male candidates will dilute Schneiderman’s support against Rice.

If Schneiderman does win the primary, he will face Staten Island Republican District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. On the surface, a current member of the much-reviled New York State Senate would seem to face a considerable disadvantage against an active and generally benign district attorney. Notwithstanding New York’s huge Democratic enrollment advantage – 5.8 million Democrats to 2.9 million Republicans – Donovan could have a chance, since New Yorkers sometimes like to pick one statewide official of the non-dominant party to keep on eye on the other officials (see, e.g. Democratic Comptroller Arthur Levitt throughout the years of Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller).

However, if Andrew Cuomo, as expected, rolls up a huge margin against his Republican opponent in the November 2 general election for Governor, the “keep an eye on the others” factor could be drowned out. Or, if more of the media beyond the Times actually recognize Schneiderman’s unusually strong personal credentials, as contrasted with Donovan’s good but not extraordinary credentialsother factors just won’t matter.