There are a few factors to keep in mind when considering who makes sense for the seat, and who doesn’t.
First is who would want it, since the seat will likely be erased after next year’s redistricting. Secondly, who would have the support from the Democratic County leader in Queens, Rep. Joe Crowley, who could quickly turn into a potential primary challenger–to himself, or someone else–should they come to enjoy working in Congress. Lastly, Crowley must consider who can ensure Democrats hold onto the seat in what is the second most Republican-leaning district in the city. (The most Republican district–NY-13 on Staten Island–was captured by a Republican, Michael Grimm, in 2010.)
So, here’s a breakdown of the candidates, based on those criteria.
The young Assemblyman from Flushing has reportedly expressed a willingness to ditch his safe job in the seniority-driven legislature, figuring a smart guy like him can find his way into a federal job after redistricting, or simply go to the private sector, capping his public service career with the enviable title of congressman.
Despite being a relatively junior member chairing the bland Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, he’s done a Weiner-esque job of garnering attention, generating headlines with press conferences on both the Spiderman musical and the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
He’s an attorney with a law degree from Columbia, so finding gainful employment outside of politics wouldn’t be that difficult, should he go that route.
Also, sources familiar with the scene say he’s pledged not to run a primary against the Rep. Joe Crowley. Challenging nearby Rep. Gary Ackerman for his Queens / Long Island seat is another matter (and, technically, not Crowley’s concern).
Lancman is also Jewish, as are a majority of voters in the district.
The former Assemblyman was elected to the City Council in 2009, and, having just started a promising career there, is unlikely to relinquish it up for a short-term gig in Washington. He just returned to work, after having spent more than a decade as an Assemblyman in Albany, so, starting a job that has him commuting to D.C. isn’t likely to be high on his priority list.
Weprin has close ties to Crowley, and if you’re the county leader, it wouldn’t be wise to sacrifice your bishop on a short-term gain like an endangered congressional seat. Keeping him in the Council, where massive turnover in 2013 could elevate him to a senior position, would make more sense.
She’s a City Council member and, more importantly, the congressman’s cousin. While that has some obvious perks, it’s also the least likely reason she’ll be picked. Picking a family member would only remind people of how Rep. Crowley first got into Congress, through a last-minute swithceroo from his mentor, Rep. Tom Manton, which left voters and would-be contenders without a say.
Also, she’s had made some gaffes while in the Council, and hasn’t scored many legislative or political victories during her tenure. (For example, Speaker Quinn and others are getting just as much, if not more, praise for saving firehouses from this year’s budget axe, even though Crowley chairs the committee overseeing them.)
She also had some campaign finance issues during earlier City Council campaigns that, although settled, could be annoying fodder for a motivated opponent to trot out.
The young, ambitious former Coucnilman with White House experience is now making money on Wall Street, giving him a mix of public and private sector experience. He is also a bona fide progressive Democrat with a penchant for attracting media attention to his causes (like living on food stamps for a week).
But is he too ambitious? The district he represented is outside NY-9 and he doesn’t live in the district (which is not a legal requirement, but it helps). It’s also unclear if Crowley would feel comfortable elevating a rising star with a discernible independent streak.
The former Assemblywoman and City Councilwoman is now working at a lobbying firm, and raising two young children on her own. She’s among only a few women being discussed for the job, and, like many of the voters, is Jewish. She also has experience running for Congress, having run for this seat before. (She lost to Weiner).
The concern with Katz’s candidacy is two-fold: logistically, with young children and no spouse, can she do it? Secondly, and probably more complicated, are her connections to the disgraced former state comptroller Alan Hevesi. Before he was brought down by a pair of scandals (Chauffeur-gate and pension kickbacks), Hevesi was his own power center in the borough, and Katz was a protege and an ally. Katz has never been accused of any wrongdoing, but for a congressman like Crowley, who is looking to polish his Washington image and downplay his image as a machine boss, Katz could be a step in the wrong direction.
Also, as a candidate for comptroller in 2009, she failed to make it into the runoff against three other male candidates, throwing into question whether her gender would be a political advantage in the special election.
The former Queens Borough President is a revered figure in the borough, and has been independent from the county’s formidable political machine. She took over after Borough President Donald Manes killed himself amid speculation that he was involved in a massive citywide kickback scheme. (Jack Newfield’s City for Sale has great details on this, including the fact that Manes plunged a knife into his stomach during a phone call with his therapist.)
She’s also older than most of the presumed candidates, and, if she can handle the daily grind of legislating, constituent complaints, media inquiries and commuting to D.C., would make a respectable place holder. And that’s all she would be, considering her advanced age. Of course, picking someone with absolutely no chance of sticking around Washington could backfire in a district where constituents enjoyed seven, highly-publicized terms of Anthony Weiner.
The former congresswoman and city comptroller has dipped her toe back into politics, playing a role in Adolfo Carrion’s brief citywide campaign (for mayor, or was it comptroller?), and having her name floated as an attorney general candidate in 2010. She’s respected, energetic, sharp, and not likely to be seen dismissively as a warm body holding onto the seat until it’s wiped off the map. But she is, in many respects, to the left of even liberal Rep. Jerry Nadler — an impressive feat in and of itself. (Holtzman advocated trying former President George W. Bush for war crimes). That kind of progressivism might draw objections from the moderate to conservative voters in the district. It’s not hard to imagine her being painted her as an out-of-touch liberal–and, perhaps, a kindred spirit of vilified Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi–within about five seconds of her nomination announcement.
A local Democratic activist who unsuccessfully ran for City Council, is Jewish and openly gay. It’s unclear how that would play in a district where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans, but lean more socially-conservative.
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