Left Seeks Valesky Challenger
From the Morning Memo:
Fed up with what they see as the IDC’s inability to deliver on its promise that a power-sharing deal with the GOP would result in passage of key progressive agenda items, Central New York liberals are quietly seeking a primary challenger to Syracuse Democrat Sen. David Valesky.
Multiple sources confirmed that Valesky – the lone upstate member of the IDC (Sen. David Carlucci hails from Rockland County) – is in the liberal crosshairs, though efforts to find someone willing to run against him in September (or June, if the Legislature manages to agree on moving the state primary date to coincide with congressional contests) have so far not borne fruit.
At least two names have been floated as potential primary opponents to Valesky: Former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, currently serving as president and chief executive officer of the state Environmental Facilities Corp.; and Assemblyman Sam Roberts.
Driscoll issued the following statement through a spokesman: “I have not been been approached on this matter, and I’m solely committed to the important work we do at the Environmental Facilities Corporation.”
Roberts did not return a message left at his legislative office seeking comment.
A Democratic source said Roberts is actively seeking someone to take on Valesky, though he is not likely to run himself, since he would have to give up a safe seat to do so. “He has been talking to a lot of people lately,” the source said of Roberts. “He’s really pissed, but not pissed enough to run on his own.”
A spokesman at the state Democratic Party said he had no knowledge of any effort to primary Valesky.
The Senate Democrats are aware of “elements of the progressive world seeking a challenger,” the source said, but they are at this point still trying to avoid direct political confrontation with the IDC in hopes that the four rogue Democrats will someday return to the conference fold and restore the party to power in the upper house.
Thanks to their power-sharing deal with the Republicans, some IDC members – including Valesky – ended up with friendlier and more Democrat-dominated districts after the last round of redistricting.
That might not be the case with IDC Leader Jeff Klein, however, since his district now includes Riverdale – a Bronx neighborhood that is the home base of former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell.
Koppell, who was also a state assemblyman and did a brief stint as state attorney general, has made no secret of the fact that he’s eyeing a primary challenge to Klein. He reportedly met with DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris over the summer to discuss his possible campaign.
But Klein would be a formidable opponent – even factoring in the left’s displeasure with his performance since the power-sharing deal. He’s a strong campaigner and a prodigious fundraiser. The Democrats probably wouldn’t be able to dislodge him – unless, that is, the governor decides to weigh in.
There was a report last fall that Cuomo and then-NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio had “direct talks” about supporting primary challengers to IDC members this fall as payback for the failure of key progressive legislation like the governor’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act and a campaign finance reform bill.
Since then, however, Klein has made a point of cozying up to the new mayor, and has repeatedly pledged support for his plan to tax the rich to fund universal pre-K and after school programs – a proposal Cuomo does not like, which doesn’t do the IDC leader any favors when it comes to his relationship with the state’s top Democrat.
Whether the left makes a concerted effort to go after the IDC this fall may well depend on how much gets done this legislative session. Cuomo has again included the Women’s Equality Act and campaign finance reform on his to-do list – neither of which the Senate Republicans seem terribly interested in doing so far, since they are facing a tough election year and don’t want to anger the right any more than they already have.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on January 16, 2014 at 10:26 am, and is filed under IDC, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|