“Cy’s nightmare should be a Jewish woman,” said one former Morgenthau confidant. “He’s got a serious problem. Homicide rates are going up, rapes are going up, sex crime rates are going up. Fairly or not, he is going to get blamed for that. And then you have a handful of very high-profile cases that largely are about women.”
Names are already being floated. Rose Gill Hearn, the well-regarded head of the Department of Investigation under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would be a formidable contender if she ran and could have the mayor’s political team behind her. Another challenger could come from the city’s bar, especially someone who has close ties to minority and women’s groups. Former federal prosecutor Zachary Carter is highly regarded, but is close to Mr. Vance. A number of politicos mentioned Catharine Abate, a former state senator and candidate for attorney general. Some members of the bar pointed to Milton Tingling, a State Supreme Court judge, as someone looking to make a run for higher office. And Richard Aborn, who came in a disappointing third place in 2009 despite strong union support, has been approached about another run.
There are signs that the Vance political team is worried. During the height of the fall-out over the Strauss-Kahn case, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera penned an op-ed in support of the district attorney, and Team Vance quickly emailed it to supporters asking for donations—a move that was clumsy at best and, at worst, gave rise to some fears, already voiced in the dailies, that Mr. Vance was politicizing the office.
In the meantime, Mr. Vance’s greatest comfort is that no candidate has yet emerged, and some former challengers are said to be backing away. Leslie Crocker Snyder, who came in second in 2009 and 2005, has told associates that she is not interested in another run at the office.
For Mr. Vance, the most effective way to discourage additional challengers might be to string together some high-profile victories. The trials of John Haggerty, the political operative accused of embezzling from Mayor Bloomberg; and Renato Seabra, accused of castrating and murdering a Portuguese journalist, both loom large. A few wins could stem the surfeit of bad press, which has seen the tabloids questioning whether Mr. Vance has a clue, while the Times scoops up leaks about the office’s disorganization.
“The bleeding has to stop,” said veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “Tabloids are like piranhas. They smell blood and they go for more.”
“He has plenty of time,” he added. “But it may just mean more time for more to get screwed up.”
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