Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Democratic primary, de Blasio at 40% in mayoral race, James in runoff for Public Advocate, Cumbo wins in 35th (and how much did JFNY help/hurt?)

In the Democratic primary election yesterday, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio won some 40% of the vote, with former Comptroller Bill Thompson getting 26%. It's unclear if there will be a runoff, as absentee ballots remain to be counted, though Thompson has vowed to fight. The winner will face Republican Joe Lhota, who may be able to raise big money.

In a short Daily News essay that seems rather tightly edited, former rival Norman Siegel, who's run for Public Advocate twice and was the first lawyer representing Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, calls de Blasio "a thoughtful person — but not without faults":
Most troubling, he should have been able to accomplish more as public advocate. Monitoring and reporting on the performance of city agencies is a key aspect of this position; he never really embraced this crucial challenge.
He was wrong to support the Atlantic Yards project, a lucrative deal for a big developer, and was silent on the expansion of Columbia University via eminent domain.

On balance, he has demonstrated a capacity to listen, learn and evolve. He understands that many New Yorkers are ready to move past Bloomberg and chart a new course.
I'd add that de Blasio has failed to call out Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner for failing to hire a promised Independent Compliance Monitor as required in the AY Community Benefits Agreement.

Public Advocate

There will be a runoff in the race for Public Advocate, where 35th District Council Member Letitia James got 36.1% of the vote, leading state Senator Dan Squadron, who got 33.1%.

That will be an interesting runoff, since James has union support and surely has alienated many in the real estate industry, given her longtime opposition to Atlantic Yards. (Forest City Ratner has contributed to Squadron.)

Given de Blasio's likely win, as well as Scott Stringer's win in the Comptroller race, James, a black woman, may have a demographic advantage, given the understandable sentiment that it may not be the best idea to have three white guys in the top three citywide posts.

Cumbo wins 35th District

In the race to replace James in the 35th District, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) founder Laurie Cumbo won a clear victory, with 6,836 votes (35.44%) over former Council aide Ede Fox (5,011 votes, 25.98%) and former District Leader Olanike Alabi (4,992 votes, 25.88%).

(Far more people voted than in the 2009 primary, when James got 8,027 of 9893 votes.)

Though the huge outside support for Cumbo (and attacks on her two main rivals) from developer-backed superPAC Jobs for New York (JFNY) surely contributed to her name recognition and also provoked a backlash, it's murky how much it contributed to Cumbo's margin. (She belatedly rejected the support.)

Likely the endorsements from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Assemblyman Walter Mosley, as well as support from the Working Families Party, 32BJ, and the United Federation of Teachers were also important, as well as the broad support Cumbo gained from her work at MoCADA.

After all, in the neighboring 36th District, Robert Cornegy, who heads the most prominent local Democratic club, appeared to edge JFNY-backed Kirsten John Foy, with 4138 votes  (29.93%) to 4044 (29.25%), though the race is still too close to call.

Interestingly enough, Bed-Stuy-based Our Time Press endorsed three candidates other than Foy in the 36th, while endorsing Cumbo in the 35th.

Only one of the city's three major dailies endorsed in the 35th, with the New York Times backing Fox, but it clearly wasn't enough. Alabi has the longest political history in the district, but started her campaign late.

Going forward

"The outpouring of support I have seen throughout this campaign has humbled and inspired me to fight vigorously for One Brooklyn in the City Council," Cumbo said in a statement. "I care deeply about this community, and I will work toward preserving our diversity, investing in our economic development, strengthening our not-for-profits, providing for our service employees, and reforming education.”

She perhaps prudently chose not to comment on her relationship with the real estate industry, but "preserving our diversity" and "investing in our economic development," can be in conflict, though not necessarily so.
The Brooklyn Paper quoted Cumbo:
“It would be almost malpractice to be a councilmember and to have no relationship with the developers who are building this community,” she said. The victor added that, while talking to developers would be a key feature of her tenure, she will not forget to include community voices.
It's true that a Council Member must talk with developers and, other than in her opposition to Atlantic Yards, James did have such relationships.

At the same time, Cumbo has spoken critically about Atlantic Yards and Forest City Ratner, so we'll see how her posture emerges.

More JFNY in Brooklyn

Incumbent Sara Gonzalez lost in the 38th District to Carlos Menchaca despite JFNY support. JFNY-backed Ari Kagan came in second to Chaim Deutsch in the 48th District.

JFNY-backed Rafael Espinal, Alan Maisel, and Mark Treyger did win in the 37th, 46th, and 47th Districts.

Was Jobs for New York a winner?

Crain's declared Jobs for NY a "winner" today:
REBNY and Jobs for New York: The real estate industry bet big on City Council races this year, spending over $7 million to influence over two dozen campaigns. The Real Estate Board of New York, through the Jobs for New York PAC, outspent even the deep-pocketed unions. Many of its candidates are not allies of the real estate industry, but the spending ensures that some council members will listen to developers' concerns when it matters.
The Real Deal reported:
The real estate industry had a good day at the City Council races, with 16 of its 22 candidates finding themselves in the winner’s circle, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by The Real Deal. Jobs for New York, a political action committee created by the powerful Real Estate Board of New York and endowed by many of its deep-pocketed players, bet roughly $4.23 million on 22 races — and received a good return on its money, the analysis shows.
About $3.34 million was spent successfully – on candidates who the PAC backed and won, or on candidates who the PAC opposed and lost. Conversely, about $896,650 went down the drain, on REBNY candidates who lost or on candidates the PAC opposed and won.
“With a couple of races still undecided, 80 percent of the candidates Jobs for NY endorsed won their campaigns,” Phil Singer, a Jobs for New York spokesperson, told TRD. “New Yorkers are concerned about jobs and unemployment, which explains why the overwhelming majority of the candidates we backed were victorious.”
Um, maybe it was just name recognition.

Barclays Center as symbol

Though Forest City Ratner did not contribute to Jobs for New York, the Barclays Center the developer built apparently stands for the power of big real estate, as the Columbia Spectator reported regarding the race for CD 7:
Former Community Board 12 chair Zead Ramadan, who hoped to become the first Arab American on City Council, said Levine’s financial muscle exerted too much control over the race.
“I feel like our team went all out, but it is no fair fight when you’re going up against candidates whose backers help fund the Barclays Center,” he said. “People’s voices should be the loudest, not the voice of the dominating rich.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Deblazio should be magnanimous and call the runoff, besides it gives him more time to campaign instead of recount