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More drama than the Borgias
Letitia James is kicking off her campaign for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general Wednesday, although it’s former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who is making the headlines.
James, the New York City public advocate who first won elected office in 2003 in a City Council run solely on the Working Families Party line, is rejecting its endorsement as she positions herself to be the favorite candidate of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
To pummel the WFP and its endorsement of actress Cynthia Nixon for governor, asking James to abandon the party line could help Cuomo bring out the black vote as he seeks a third term in November. And that could keep the WFP from winning enough votes in November to automatically keep its line on the state ballot.
In return for James’ decision, Cuomo is trying to clear the field for her at next week’s state Democratic convention in Uniondale. If James gets two-thirds of the vote, she would be the only candidate automatically on the Democratic primary ballot, which would force the legions of others interested in running for AG to go the more costly and difficult petition route.
The fewer the candidates, the more likely that James will win the nomination next week. And with James on the general election ballot, more black voters are likely to stay on the Democratic line rather than jump to the WFP, hurting Nixon and her running mate, NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams.
The WFP went ballistic about James’ rejection, framing it as racist. “It is nothing short of outrageous to see Andrew Cuomo demand Tish James jump through hoops that he would never ask a white man to do,” the party said in a statement. “This is part of a disgraceful pattern, just like when he kept white male Republican leadership in the State Senate instead of supporting Andrea Stewart Cousin’s leadership.” The statement also described James as a “political pawn.”
Meanwhile, Bharara, who is considering an independent run, upstaged the James-WFP drama with his tweet supporting Nixon’s pledge to create a new Moreland Commission. Cuomo dissolved his first anti-corruption commission in 2013 amid criticism, especially from Bharara who investigated the panel’s shutdown for about 17 months before determining there was no evidence Cuomo had committed a crime. Bharara went on to indict legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos on corruption charges.
“The first Moreland Commission never should have been disbanded and every New Yorker should support a strong anti-corruption measure like this,” Bharara tweeted.
When will the state of New York politics, with its betrayals and intrigue, become Netflix’s version of “The Borgias” but without the Renaissance?
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran may have started something with her quest to rid Long Island of signs and homages to politicians. Now, Tom Suozzi and George W. Bush are getting their due.
Curran vowed not to put her name on new signs. Instead, she is taping over the name of her predecessor rather than spend money on new signs. She targeted the cost and type of self-promotion that proliferated under Edward Mangano.
Curran’s campaign inspired a crusade by Richard Siegelman of Plainview. He has always been bothered that the Nassau County 9/11 memorial at Eisenhower Park lists the names of Nassau County residents who died in the attack, but also displays photos of a smiling Suozzi, who championed the monument’s creation, and President George W. Bush, who attended its 2004 groundbreaking.
Siegelman started a letter-writing campaign to Suozzi, now representing the North Shore in Congress, and convinced him the photos should be removed. Suozzi in turn asked Curran to remove the photos, and her office wrote to Seigelman in March that the removal process has started.
But the photos are still there.
A county spokesman told The Point that the plaques containing the photos of Suozzi and Bush are glued to the memorial, making attempts by the parks department to remove them without damage difficult and expensive — but that it will happen.
Meanwhile, Siegelman cherishes his letter from Curran’s chief of staff, Victoria Kaso, that says, “Thank you for being vocal in this matter and reaching out to the office.”
Rita Ciolli (Photo by Howard Schnapp)
Private schools lure DeVos
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made history in NYC this week when she visited two private Jewish schools. And an Orthodox lobbying group got a little bit more clout.
The trips are believed to be the first such visits by a federal education secretary, according to the Agudath Israel of America.
The group says it facilitated DeVos’ visit to Manhattan High School for Girls on Tuesday. In a news release, the group notes that, “Secretary DeVos’s visit to Manhattan High School and a second visit to Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway are both the result of continued advocacy by the Agudah on behalf of yeshiva parents.”
Agudath Israel gets results on a more local political level, too. The group says it
DeVos did not weigh in on these local issues. Too busy making history, she didn’t take reporters’ questions.