ALBANY—Dan French, one of the Democrats talked about as a potential candidate for the seat expected to be vacated by John McHugh, has one built-in base of support: fellow alumni of the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
"I think anybody in the Moynihan world who knows Dan and worked with Dan would rally around him. It's like an alumni association," said Bill Cunningham, a former aide to Michael Bloomberg and now a partner at Dan Klores Communications. "He's a quality guy, he's a smart guy, and the fact that he came to Washington and was working on the finance staff for Pat Moynihan should say something."
French started working for Moynihan's office in 1987 as a personal staffer, them moved to several committee staffs at the senator's behest both before and after he attended law school in Syracuse. All told, he worked on the Hill until the mid-1990s, interacting with a broad swath of now-dispersed politicos. Afterward, French served as a U.S. Attorney and then started a law firm.
Cunningham told me he met French while Cunningham was serving as Moynihan's chief-of-staff in 1995. Other alums include Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's deputy mayor for government affairs; West Wing producer Lawrence O'Donnell; fund-raiser Cindy Darrison; and Kyle Kotary, an Albany-based political consultant.
"I think it'd be interesting, if he runs, to see who gets involved," Kotary told me.
Does this mean we could see Sheekey running a war room in Watertown?
"At the very least, I think, Kevin is involved in Dan's kitchen cabinet," Kotary replied.
(Sheekey did not return an email.)
Democrats have not yet picked a candidate for the race (the seat is not vacant, either), and a process is expected to be firmed up after a conference call tomorrow. Some national party leaders are grumbling that State Senator Darrel Aubertine was pressured by state officials to drop out of the race, leaving them without their strongest candidate. The Republican candidate is Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.
French has said that he is still weighing whether to run.