Thursday, September 24, 2009

Primary Non-Winners: It was a Good Day

Today was like one of those fly dreams
Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams
No helicopter looking for a murder
Two in the morning got the fat burger
Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp
And it read Ice Cube's a pimp
Drunk as hell but no throwing up
Half way home and my pager still blowing up
Today I didn't even have to use my A.K./
I got to say it was a good day

Updated (yes, I fixed the spelling of "Primary"): Well, not for everyone. In every election, there are winners…and non-winners. Not everyone can win elections, but not everyone who doesn’t win is a loser. There are political comebacks, new alliances forged, and issue advocacy campaigns that can be launched following elections. Before we turn the page on this primary, let’s take a look at some groups that were disappointed with the results on Primary night and the challenges that they face in the coming months.


Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and Independent Neighborhood Democrats: Rough night for the Downtown Brooklyn Progressive community. Though Jo Anne Simon received the endorsement of both groups (she sits on IND), she was unable to unite progressive voters in downtown Brooklyn to turnout in high numbers on Primary Day to counteract the Hasidic bloc in Williamsburg. What does this result mean for the influence of both political clubs moving forward? A former council candidate gave me his view and it’s not pretty:
The political clubs in downtown Brooklyn are just as insular, tribal and patronage driven as the clubs that they came in existence to fight. This is no reflection at all on the candidates who lost. The futility of that effort (to point out the Vito-Steve Levin connection), was shown when Levin picked up Chuck Schumer’s endorsement. Once that issue was put to bed, the clubs had nothing left to talk about.

New Kings Democrats: New Kings faces a different challenge. It is a nascent political organization still figuring out its direction. While their effort to recruit and run candidates for county committee was fairly successful, many individual leaders in New Kings were poached by candidates (Leslie Crocker Snyder, Evan Thies, Jo Anne Simon, Diana Reyna, Gerry Esposito, Doug Biviano, etc.) as staff or volunteers in the primary. Now, after licking their wounds, they are back and set to choose some new leadership. NKD member and former Esposito spokesperson Morgan Pehme has been pessimistic about the group’s direction and said the election was “the death of the reform movement in Brooklyn,” however other members believe the election provided a need to refocus efforts and work to build alliances with organizations (perhaps with Make the Road New York, Bushwick Impact, or El Puente) also looking for ways to engage their members politically. Here's a comments from a more optimistic NKD member:
Many members of NKD were pulled on different elections on Election Day, but the enthusiasm for reforming local Brookyn politics remains high. NKD has big plans for 2010 and we expect to expand our membership base and network of partners in the months ahead.

Vito Lopez: Vito divided the Kings County Party resources among several candidates on Primary Day. The effort paid off in Steve Levin’s victory, but Martiza Davila came up short in the 34th. While he is still upset about the Davila race (according to a few sources), do not expect him to dwell on the outcome for long, as there are committee chairmanships in City Council to be decided upon in the coming months. Will Vito make a play to wrestle the Land Use and Finance Committees, formerly chaired by Melinda Katz and David Weprin, to Brooklyn Councilmembers (Recchia and maybe Steve Levin)? Will Vito push a candidate to run against Speaker Christine Quinn, with whom the Daily News notes there is an uneasy relationship? Big wheel keeps on running… proud mary keeps on burning…

Williamsburg Pastors: I could have put the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition here. Beyond Reyna’s close win, it is still unclear whether they have gained the wider support they need to derail the Broadway Triangle rezoning plan once it gets to City Council. Instead, let’s note the stress that pastors at St. Peter St. Paul (Father Rick Beuther) and Trasnfiguration Roman Catholic Church (Father Tony Hernandez) have been feeling as the 34th campaign divided their parishes. The Church aligned itself with Assemblymember Lopez over the sex abuse bill, and pastors in Williamsburg and Bushwick found themselves in an uncomfortable position on primary night, taking calls from Vito, who was upset that they didn’t do more to support Maritza Davila. Assemblymember Marge Markey is trying to add more support to her sex abuse bill, holding a press conference with black ministers in Manhattan this week, and hopes to reintroduce the bill in January. It will be interesting to see what role the Brooklyn Diocese will take in local politics going forward.

DFNYC: Founded shortly after Howard Dean lost the Democratic Presidential Primary, Democracy For America has grown into a well-respected nation-wide grassroots organization that recruits and trains progressive candidates to run for office. Their strength has been to run left-leaning candidates in conservative districts that have had little Democratic representation or rural districts with conservative Democratic incumbents. They have had less success wading in urban areas with strong Democratic Party organization. Josh Skaller, Norman Siegel, Steve Behar, Yetta Kurland were all backed by Democracy for New York City, the local branch of DFA. All lost. Skaller was the prototypical DFNYC member, yet he was unable to round up enough progressive support because the Lander campaign, assisted by the Working Families Party, had more volunteers on the ground. For DFNYC to be more successful in New York, they need to add more organizers or work to clear the field of other candidates that could split voters.

The Cleanliness of my Apartment: Dirty dishes and silverware in the sink. Bits of cantaloupe rind on the floor. Coffee rind smudges on the floor. Don’t even ask about the bathroom. After three weeks of neglect, The Short Cave needs a good scrub down. Volunteers? Anyone?

Neighbors Allied for Good Growth: Another temporary placement. Both NAG board member Evan Thies and Jo Anne Simon lost last Tuesday. The City Council winner in the 33rd District, Steve Levin, did not attend NAG’s candidates’ smackdown in July. Now, the organization is trying to get its swerve on to approach Steve with a comprehensive transportation/open space agenda. Fortunately for NAG, and for North Brooklyn, this has the potential to be a win-win. Steve will be looking to make an immediate policy impact in the district and NAG advocates have a laundry list of concerns that he can effectively advance in City Hall. Here’s NAG’s Susan Albrecht on Tuesday’s outcome:
NAG clearly recognizes that it is important to work closely with elected officials. Our councilmember is our greatest advocate in city government. Ensuring that the affordable housing promises of the rezoning are kept is where we could use Steve’s leadership. NAG can have a role in providing the new council rep with an intimate understanding of the community’s needs as well as work closely with the new council representative.
So cheer up, NAG! Just look on the bright side of life!

The David Yassky Special Achievement Award for Non-Non-Winner: Hi… This is David Yassky…. Thank you sooooooooooo much for calling my district office.
For only two more months, we will be able to hear this phone message. I will miss it. David’s political future is still unclear. He placed second in a competitive Comptroller race and now faces a bitter runoff next Tuesday with Queens Councilmember John Liu
. Liu is up in the polls, but just barely, and turnout is expected to be low. Both are running negative messaging this week and a NY1 debate awaits them tonight. David is fighting an uphill battle this week. He may be on the defensive regarding term limits and the DiBrienza issue, as Tom Robbins has noted in a long Village Voice piece this week, but if there’s anyone who knows how to make lemonade out of lemons… call me, because I could really use a Tom Collins after this primary.


Anonymous said...

I hope these local pastors have learned that church members don't like politics in Church and it will be the end of this once and for all.

Burger said...

Mark my words David Yassky will win. He has the support of Rabbi David Niederman


Anonymous said...

oh it's not over...not only did the pastors align with Vito, so did the "leader" of our Diocese. It was not enough to publish one article in the Tablet in English and Spanish (Sep 5th and Sep 12) against Councilmemeber Reyna, but DiMarzio also got on the airwaves (Radio Maria) against Reyna. Do you think if what she said in the NY Times in June 2009 wasn't true, he would be so upset? Good reigns over evil. Despite all your efforts "Bishop", we won!