If we have learned anything this primary campaign is that you may not be able to petition the Lord with prayer... but you can petition your way on the ballot and get the Lord (or at least his most avid fans) to help your City Council campaign.
With that thought, let's take a closer look at the Winners and Non-Winners of last Tuesday's Primary election. No one is a loser really (except Kendall Stewart, who is a sore loser), but there are some non-winners. This list does not reflect the candidates themselves, but the scores of individuals and organizations who saw their profile go up or down (and in one case both) this week, following the Democratic Primary. Today we'll look at the winners.
1. The Working Families Party: And how! Let's look at their roster. Jumaane Williams (Win), Brad Lander (Win), Bill De Blasio (Win/ Runoff), John Liu (Win/ Runoff), Jimmy van Bramer (Win), Bill Thompson (Win), and Steve Levin (Win). Lynn Schulman lost in Forrest Hills, Queens but she was running against a former councilwoman with name recognition and Maritza Davila lost by 200 votes to a Council incumbent. Williams and Lander, where WFP put most of their resources, won big. As Dan Levitan, WFP spokesperson, told me, the DFS funding scandal made very little difference to voters in these races and was not an issue. Let's go to Hank Sheinkopf for the citywide perspective:
The purpose of political parties is to elect voters and turn out people in elections for candidates. WFP is filling the void. The clubs do not have the volunteers. What the WFP does is provide the kind of labor needed to turn out voters at a price. It tells you less about WFP than the failure of the traditional parties to get much done and have voter participation at reasonable levels.
2. United Jewish Organizations: A little over a year ago, I wrote a story about how Rabbi David Niederman and other UJO leaders delivered over 4000 new registered voters to the Brooklyn Board of Elections. The effort put forward to get Hasidic residents to vote in the upcoming presidential election, but Niederman knew the significance of the event. So did Vito Lopez. On Primary Day, over 5,000 South Williamsburg residents voted in the primary. Two campaign sources estimate 2,700 of those were the UJO bloc that helped Steve secure victory. Niederman and UJO have themselves an even stronger ally in the Council and can partially take credit for Levin's win.
3. Vito Lopez: The other party who can take credit for Steve's win. Yes, Steve worked hard to pick up votes throughout the district from the Krakus Senior Center to Gowanus Houses. Yes, Downtown Brooklyn was fractured among four candidates. Yes, Seve is naturally charming, likable and intelligent with a keen grasp of a variety of issues. But Steve credits Vito for strategizing the campaign and Vito nearly toppled an incumbent, Diana Reyna, in the same night. It's good to be the king. More Sheinkopf:
His power has not diminished and he is moving forward. Not winning the Reyna race does not diminish his power. He is a serious political operative and a serious player. He can decide who gets on statewide office without petition: that kind of power is a starter. Controlling who gets on County Committee is very important. You never sell a guy like that short under any circumstances.
4. Churches United for Fair Housing: Rob Solano is careful to share credit for the Reyna victory with organizers from Los Sures, El Puente, St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corps, but the lead organization in the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition emerged as one of the most influential of the group. This election was won through the churches, and Solano's group provided the nudge in an extremely close race more than say the artists or homeowners in Ridgewood, or other groups. Churches United and the BTCC may even find some new allies from Central Brooklyn and Queens now that Reyna comes in with third-term clout as the Triangle's rezoning plan makes its way to City Council. Updated: An important clarification. These organizers (as well as Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council organizers) worked as volunteers off the clock and were not paid staff on the campaigns. Nonprofits/ 501c3s cannot engage in political activity.
5. Rich Mazur and North Brooklyn Development Corporation: Rich picked his horse, Levin, early in this one and testified in City Council in support of extending term limits because he liked working with Diana Reyna (and David Yassky) so much. Also, he helped bring Dean Palin to Greenpoint for those affordable housing units in the India Street Project. Good summer for Rich.
“It’s always good to support the candidate that wins. He’s a warm fuzzy guy. If my mother likes him, I like him," says Rich.
6. Steve Levin's future tailor: Hey Rich, can you give Steve the name of your tailor? Or hook him up with Martin Greenfield? He's lost a little weight this campaign so his shirts are puffing out of his slacks a little bit and also his suit needs to be taken in. I'm guessing Steve is a 38 Regular but wearing a size 40.
7. Boropolitics.com: I'll toot my collective horn here a little bit. Excellent breaking election coverage throughout the whole borough. On Primary Day and after a flurry of in-depth articles and posts from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx were collected and sorted in one place for political observers to read. Good job guys!