In Some Races, PEF Plays It Safe
From the Morning Memo:
Much was made last week of the endorsement by PEF, the state’s second-largest public workers union, of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout.
The nod was seen both as political muscle flexing by the union’s new president, Susan Kent, and a shot across Cuomo’s bow at a time when his relationship with several public sector unions is strained.
PEF also bucked the institutional Democratic trend and backed former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell over IDC Leader Jeff Klein, despite the Cuomo-backed deal for Klein and his fellow renegades to abandon the GOP and strike a new deal with the so-called “regular” Democrats in exchange for (among other things) seeing primary challenges to IDC members dropped.
But a full list of PEF’s legislative endorsements provided to CapTon reveals the union wasn’t so politically provocative in all its candidate selections, even opting to sit on the sidelines rather than choose sides in races where incumbents have been charged with wrongdoing.
PEF did not issue endorsements in the Brooklyn race where embattled former Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson is fighting for his political life; or in the Binghamton race where Sen. Tom Libous, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, is doing the same.
Both Sampson and Libous have been slapped with federal corruption charges.
The union’s regional leaders recommended backing Sampson’s primary challenger Dell Smitherman, a former 1199 SEIU political coordinator, and Libous’ Democratic opponent, former Vestal Town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak; but those suggestions were not heeded when a final vote was taken at PEF’s conference last week.
PEF did back a primary challenger to another scandal-scarred senator, supporting former NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie over Sen. Malcolm Smith (another former Senate Democratic leader) in Queens.
On Long Island, PEF mostly stayed with the status quo, except in one notable case: It backed Democrat Ethan Irwin, a Levittown lawyer and former US Marine, over veteran GOP Sen. Kemp Hannon.
In two open seats on Long Island, PEF backed the Democratic candidates, choosing environmental activist Adrienne Esposito in the battle for GOP Sen. Lee Zeldin’s district (he’s running for Congress), and Dave Denenberg for ex-Sen. Chuck Fuschillo’s district.
PEF also opted for “no endorsement” in another Brooklyn district, which is represented by Sen. Simcha Felder – a Democrat who conferences with the Republicans.
In Western New York, PEF issued no endorsement in the 59th SD, which is represented by Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan. It is also sitting out the 60th SD race, where GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti faces a primary challenge from attorney Kevin Stocker and a general election challenge from Democratic attorney Marc Panepinto.
And PEF also passed up the opportunity to choose sides in the battle over retiring GOP Sen. George Maziarz’s seat in Niagara Falls, but did give a nod to Elaine Altman – a Democrat challenge Republican Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.
Also seeing “no endorsement” votes in their districts from PEF were GOP Sens. Cathy Young (57th SD) and Jim Seward (51st SD).
In several contested races on which control of the Senate chamber could hinge, PEF sided with the Democrats. It backed Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk over her GOP opponent (for the second election cycle in a row) ex-Assemblyman George Amedore; Sen. Terry Gipson over Republican Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino; and Sen. Ted O’Brien over his Republican challenger, former TV news anchor Rich Funke.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on August 18, 2014 at 8:04 am, and is filed under Labor, State Senate, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|