Lewis Cohen, DFNYC finance director, is striking back against critics who were baffled by the organization’s decision not to endorse in the race between State Senator Marty Connor and his challenger, former Chuck Schumer aide Dan Squadron.
Cohen said both candidates posed problems for the group’s progressive membership.
Some members of DFNYC didn’t think Connor had been outspoken enough on congestion pricing, Cohen told me, nor did they think that his work as an election lawyer raised “progressive confidence within this community.” There was also lingering unhappiness with Connor’s campaign tactics against his 2006 challenger, Ken Diamondstone, who many progressives preferred over Connor, Cohen says.
(Connor’s spokesman told me, "A non-endorsement is a win for us since last time they endorsed Diamondstone." He also noted that "Connor supported congestion pricing.")
As for Squadron, Cohen said members were uncomfortable with his position on mayoral control, which is up for renewal by the legislature next year. “He also co-wrote a book with Chuck Schumer, Positively American, and that particular tome, although well written, wasn’t exactly a 10 on the ‘1-to-10’ progressive scale, as Chuck Schumer tends not to be,” Cohen said.
Squadron’s campaign countered these charges, e-mailing me to say Squadron would "fight for truly progressive solutions, not backroom deals."
I suggested to Cohen that this would have been a good opportunity to demonstrate the group’s influence in a Democratic primary. Cohen disagreed (“we endorsed five winners in ’06, two were primary winners,” he said) and added that the group’s mission of electing progressive candidates was largely fulfilled by having the candidate articulate their platforms.
“We get part of our job done by putting it up for a vote, because we’ve disseminated the information and the differences between them,” he said. “We’ve shone a light on it; hence, we’ve already done our job. So, we can get it done by not actually succeeding in getting an endorsement. That’s part of what the organization is about that I think is overlooked sometimes.”