Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Winning Council candidates, some of whom benefited from outside spending, say public spending is what counts

Photo: The Real Deal
There's 35th District Council Member-elect Laurie Cumbo at the center of the (off-center) photo of a rally yesterday organized by Common Cause NY, whose leader, Susan Lerner, is at the microphone.

The goal of the press conference was to salute the city's matching funds program, and to urge the state to institute a similar program, according to The Real Deal.

Of course several candidates, including Cumbo, benefited significantly from independent spending by Jobs for New York, a superPAC funded by the real estate industry but also with union members.

The Epoch Times reported:
Lerner said she would be asking all of the candidates to enter into a people’s pledge, that allows citizens to donate to their chosen candidate while limiting third party investments. This project worked well in the Massachusetts senate race, Lerner said.
A double-edged sword?

The Real Deal reported:
Cumbo, who had called on the PAC to drop their support of her during the race, said that her right to run her own campaign was taken away by the PAC’s endorsement, which threatened to derail her credibility with voters.
“Our race was set, and this really caused a lot of challenges,” she said.
A relationship with the real estate community was important for any New York City politician, Cumbo acknowledged, but outsized spending was not the way to go about it.
“You don’t want to further empower individuals that already have money, power and influence to control the democratic process,” she said.
Others have a more critical interpretation, so I think there will be continuing debate on how much the spending helped or hurt Cumbo.

Her rhetoric regarding that spending has certainly hardened, since she's no longer saying things like: "I thank JOBS NY for its excitement and belief in this campaign and I look forward to working with its various constituencies as your next City Council Member."

Rival Ede Fox commented last week:
As you may know, the reality of this race was that there was an incredible amount of special interest money invested into it. The real estate lobby, JOBS FOR NY, contributed over $250,000 to win this election for their candidate which also included almost $28,000 of negative untruthful mailers to discredit me and another opponent of their selected candidate. In addition, there was a great deal of political support from local politicians who decided early on in the process which candidate should be elected to represent this community.
Was it JFNY or WFP?

As Common Cause noted, Jobs for New York-backed candidates won only 1/3 of the time when opposing candidates backed by the Working Families Party. When supporting candidates backed by the Working Families Party, their record was almost completely successful. (Cumbo was backed by the WFP.)

The one district where the double endorsement didn't apparently work was the 36th District, covering Bedford-Stuyvesant, where there's a recount, but vote leader Robert Cornegy was backed by incumbent Al Vann.

Then again, The Real Deal reported that Jobs for New York still was claiming a role:
But Jobs for New York’s Phil Singer said that the WFP had little involvement in those races beyond endorsements, whereas Jobs for New York spent $2.6 million in those same races, citing data from the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

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