Chuck Schumer wins again.
In Steve Israel's statement announcing his decision not to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate next year, the Long Island representative specifically thanks "Senator Schumer for his friendship and guidance during this process."
Last week, an article in The New York Times quoted Schumer telling Democratic donors "There is not going to be a primary!" Schumer's cooperation with the Times story, which was about how he had taken Gillibrand under his wing, was widely read as a warning to potential challengers to back off.
Israel ultimately heeded that warning.
Israel's decision not to run makes the prospect of a messy Democratic primary less likely. Israel was widely considered the most viable of potential threats to Gillibrand, who has yet to cement her standing with New York voters.
Representative Carolyn McCarthy of Long Island, an anti-gun advocate who has expressed full-throated criticism of Gillibrand's conservative—but evolving—record on gun control, said recently in an interview," [T]he last thing I want to do is run for Senate. " Still, she has suggested in the past that she might be more likely to run if it looks like no one else is going to jump into the primary.
Other potential challengers to Gillibrand include Representative Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Israel's entry into the race might have given them cover to get in, too. Now, the question is whether either of them is any more likely to defy Schumer than Israel, an ambitious politician who, at age 50, will probably never have a better opportunity to reach the U.S. Senate than in a primary against a thus far unproven and largely unknown gubernatorial appointee.
UPDATE: Here's a statement Schumer just sent out on Israel's decision not to make the race.
Steve Israel has once again proven what many of us who have worked with him already knew: he is a class act through and through and a committed public servant of the highest order. I know it was not an easy decision for Steve but as usual he did the right thing for our state, our country and our party.