In 1979, when Joe Bruno was still new to the State Senate, his office was next door to that of State Senator Norman Levy, head of the Labor Committee. Levy’s intern at the time was a young Hofstra student named Randi Weingarten.
“I watched him, as a leader, mature,” Weingarten, now the president of the United Federation of Teachers, told me. Bruno, she said, “will be sorely missed.”
There’s been speculation about what Bruno’s retirement meant for the unions and business interests he had political ties to.
“I was able to work with George Pataki. I was able to work with Eliot Spitzer. I was able to work with David Paterson. I was able to work with Sheldon Silver. I was able to work with Joe Bruno,” she said. “I’ve been able to work with Democrats and Republicans alike.”
She went on to say that Bruno’s successor, Dean Skelos, is a “fierce” fighter for education funds in his Long Island district. As to whether Bruno’s departure signaled an inevitable Democratic takeover of the State Senate, Weingarten said, “I think you can’t answer that question right now. You answer that question the first Tuesday in November.”