In Today’s Observer

Ben Smith profiles state Republican Party Chairman Steve Minarik — who, depending on who you talk to, assumes the features of a “Monroe County Karl Rove” or a hayseed Howard Dean — as he pans across the post-Pataki landscape, looking for his party’s next gubernatorial candidate.

And Jason Horowitz takes a close look at Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, whose influence has diminished since Mayor Mike gave her the cold shoulder, yet has become the woman to beat for a motley crew of candidates who are coveting her post in a bitter race.