As he contemplates a run for City Council, scandal-scarred Vito Lopez isn’t getting any more popular just because he resigned from the State Assembly on Monday.
That was made abundantly clear at a City Hall rally yesterday, where a bevy of women legislators and candidates, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Councilwoman Diana Reyna, again denounced Mr. Lopez’s candidacy and endorsed the disgraced pol’s would-be rival, Antonio Reynoso.
The week before Vito Lopez resigned, the state ethics commission released a scathing 68-page report that detailed a lurid pattern of abuse in his district office.
According to the allegations, the former assemblyman once lamented the existence of statutory rape laws in the presence of a 14-year-old intern. Mr. Lopez demanded massages from female staffers, including one who cried and expressed her discomfort as a former rape victim. At a bar one evening, he grabbed an employee’s hands from across the table. When she tried to pull away, he tightened his grip. When she began to cry, Mr. Lopez said he’d release her only after she counted to 60. When she did, he stared at her for the full minute.
After resigning from his Assembly seat on Monday morning, Mr. Lopez is said to be contemplating a seemingly unfathomable second act: running for City Council. Given the accusations against him, what’s more surprising is that even his detractors acknowledge that Mr. Lopez actually has a viable path to victory.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is throwing her weight–and campaign resources–behind City Council candidate Antonio Reynoso in an effort to keep disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez from wining a seat on the council.
Ms. Quinn’s campaign announced the launch of a “Women for Reynoso” campaign Friday, which will “rally women throughout New York in support of Antonio Reynoso and to make sure that Vito Lopez’s career in government comes to an end.”
And Stay out!
Describing his conduct as “nauseating,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn again called on disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign from office, but held her fire when it came to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
A day after the release of a scathing report detailing Mr. Lopez’s alleged sexual harassment of numerous young female staffers, Ms. Quinn said Mr. Lopez had no business serving in elected office–much less running for the City Council–and urged New Yorkers to do anything they can to keep him out of City Hall.
His mouth buried in a bullhorn, Lincoln Restler howled at the tinted windows in front of him.
“I see you didn’t bring your daughters to dinner!” the Democratic activist shouted at a slew of dark-suited men slipping soundlessly into the sumptuous Williamsburg restaurant.
“Ooh,” mumbled a grinning police officer. “That was harsh.”
Saying No to Vito
His opponents have announced a protest outside of his first City Council fund-raiser tomorrow, but Assemblyman Vito Lopez told Politicker he’s not rattled by their efforts.
“It seems like they’re putting a lot of time and energy into preventing me from running, even though I haven’t yet decided to run,” Mr. Lopez, the ex-Brooklyn Democratic Party boss facing allegations that he repeatedly sexually harassed staffers, explained earlier today. “You wonder–they’re a reform group–why would they want to spend energy to prevent somebody from running in an election? That doesn’t seem like reform.”
The New Kings Democrats went there, and fast.
Only a couple hours after news broke that Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who is battling sexual harassment allegations, registered a campaign account for a City Council run, the Democratic club launched a “molester free zone” campaign, complete with a fairly direct flier, illustrating exactly how negative the marquee race will get should Mr. Lopez officially enter it.
Over the weekend, the influential Working Families Party announced their support in a number of key races across the city, sending a signal of labor support as candidates vie for a seat in the City Council next year.
“New Yorkers have a huge opportunity to decide the direction of our city. It’s time to choose whether we’ll be a city that caters to the rich and powerful 1%, or whether New York City can work for all of us,” Bill Lipton, the party’s deputy director, said in a statement. “Every day New Yorkers can count on WFP-endorsed candidates to stand up for all of us.”
La Vida Lopez
Assemblyman Vito Lopez says he’s still mulling a run for the City Council, but two mayoral candidates have already endorsed his potential opponent in the race. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio offered their formal endorsements today for Antonio Reynoso, the chosen candidate of Brooklyn’s anti-Lopez faction to replace term-limited Councilwoman Diana Reyna.
Neither endorsement is surprising. Although Mr. Lopez, the former head of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party, still has a large footprint in the Bushwick-based district, he became politically radioactive following sexual harassment allegations last year. The controversy furthermore sent a shockwave through the City Council’s redistricting process when the lines were allegedly redrawn for Mr. Lopez’s benefit. Ms. Quinn had a particularly harsh reaction to the accusations and subsequently tabled the map, vowed to defeat Mr. Lopez and held a fundraiser for Mr. Reynoso.
Earlier today, Politicker reported that Councilwoman Diana Reyna’s Chief of Staff Antonio Reynoso is looking at running for her seat when she retires, joining Borough President Marty Markowitz’s aide Jay Otaño. Since then, District Leader Maritza Davila told City & State she’s in the race again as well.
Now, Tommy Torres, a teacher active in Democratic politics, tells Politicker he’s also considering joining the crowded fray. ”Right now, it’s just an exploratory committee,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to run.”
He’s already taken the first step needed to raise funds for such a campaign by registering a committee for the seat.