As the new councilman for District 34, which includes Williamsburg and portions of Bushwick in Brooklyn and South Ridgewood in Queens, Councilman Antonio Reynoso personally understands the issues of his constituents.
He was born, bred and still lives in Williamsburg, a neighborhood he hopes never to leave. Plus, Mr. Reynoso spent seven years under the tutelage of his predecessor, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, working as her budget director, legislative director and, eventually, chief of staff until he quit to campaign for her seat.
Members of New York City’s Congressional delegation, long relegated to the sidelines of local politics, are increasingly filling the void left by the declining influence of political party apparatchiks.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Brooklyn, home to Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio and his GOP rival Joe Lhota, as well as public advocate runoff contenders Letitia James and Daniel Squadron. The latest trend from the borough of hipsters, Hasidim and Caribbean homelands is the toppling of incumbents with the help of U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Nydia Velázquez.
It was a rough night for redemption-seekers.
Four scandal-scarred candidates–Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner–all failed to win their bids last night, despite, in some of their cases, vaster war chests and soaring name recognition.
All four candidates succumbed to an onslaught of toxic press and apparent voter fatigue over the circus-like atmosphere of the election after Mr. Weiner and Mr. Spitzer jumped into the fray.
Veni vidi vito
Council Speaker Christine Quinn set out to do two things yesterday evening: gather Latino voters for her mayoral bid and undermine scandal-scarred Vito Lopez’s own campaign for the City Council.
Ms. Quinn, the one-time mayoral front-runner, trudged up and down Williamsburg staircases with Mr. Lopez’s electoral rival Antonio Reynoso, the 30 year-old former council staffer the Democratic establishment hopes can block Mr. Lopez from winning a second act in politics.
After being forced to resigned after a lurid sexual harassment scandal that tarnished powerful Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, now-City Council candidate Vito Lopez has become the leper of the Democratic establishment, shunned by formerly loyal supporters and castigated in the harshest terms.
But ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is locked in an increasingly negative race for comptroller, stands out as the rare candidate willing to offer a few kind words.
The Battle for Bushwick
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick is dismissing as “fiction” a report alleging she is leading a coup of female lawmakers to depose Shelly Silver as Assembly speaker.
The New York Post’s Fred Dicker reported this morning that Mr. Silver is facing a “serious leadership threat’’ from 30 Democratic Assemblywomen fed up after being forced to defend him in the wake of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
While two scandal-scarred pols hog the media spotlight, another fallen candidate is laying the groundwork for a return to power.
Vito Lopez, the former Democratic boss forced to resign his Assembly seat in disgrace, raised almost $20,000 during the latest filing period and has filed the necessary signatures to make it on the ballot. And–observer say–he just might win.
“Vito is a highly formidable candidate,” an ally of Mr. Lopez’s opponent, Antonio Reynoso, told Politicker today. “He is the favorite in this race.”
Although Assemblyman Vito Lopez was cleared of criminal charges today, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics still found plenty to to dislike about him in a revealing report that concluded that Mr. Lopez fostered a shockingly sordid work environment in clear violation of official standards of conduct.
In the scathing 68-page report, Mr. Lopez–who was stripped of his powerful committee chairmanship and his position atop the Brooklyn Democratic Party after sexual harassment allegations first surfaced last year—engaged in such acts as hanging mistletoe in his district office and forcibly kissing a staffer, shoving his hand “all the way up” the inner thigh of another staffer and more.
Why is Vito Lopez still in the State Assembly?
It has been two weeks since word leaked out that we the taxpayers paid off, er, compensated two women who claimed that Mr. Lopez, a veteran legislator and chairman of Brooklyn’s Democratic county committee, harassed them in the workplace. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver approved a secret $103,000 payment each—and never saw fit to refer the case to the Assembly’s Ethics Committee.
But that very committee did look into other allegations against Mr. Lopez and found an appalling record of intimidation, inappropriate conduct and harassment. Subsequent news accounts reported that Mr. Lopez, who is 71 years old, frequently commented on the appearance of female staff members, and sometimes made inappropriate advances. Women interviewed by The New York Times said that they felt threatened by Mr. Lopez’s boorish behavior. The assemblyman brusquely told one staff member to remain quiet after she complained about unwanted and aggressive advances from an aide to one of Mr. Lopez’s allies.
In a better world, Mr. Lopez would be thoroughly ashamed and would already be in self-imposed exile. His Assembly seat would be vacant. He would not still be the leader of Brooklyn’s Democrats.
But, of course, we are not talking about a perfect world, or even a decent one.
Longtime Assemblyman and Kings County Democratic leader Vito Lopez married the Brooklyn Democratic Party with the Occupy Wall Street protests yesterday, leading a delegation of supporters, political allies, unions and community groups over the Brooklyn Bridge to make common cause with the demonstrations.