Previewing the Special Elections
July 20th, 2011

As we’ve reported, special elections in New York City have all the drama of voting contest in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Without the benefit of secret police or threat of torture, party leaders control the process giving the voters a chance to ratify their choice.

But, so far, at least one of the Assembly seats up for grabs in the Sept.13 special election is showing signs of being a real contests. The Republicans are challenging the Democratic choice — and likely winner, given the registration figures — in three others. And a couple of intrepid hopefuls are even trying to get on the ballot through the petition process — and without the blessing of party leaders.

As we’ve noted previously, the most hotly contested race appears to be in the 54 Assembly district, formerly represented by Darryl Towns who stepped down to join the Cuomo administration.

More on the race there and in the other three districts after the jump.

Not surprisingly the Democratic Party picked as their candidate Rafael Espinal, chief of staff to City Councilmember Erik Dilan and the choice of Brooklyn Party Democratic boss Vito Lopez. Not content with just the Democratic line, Espinal has the backing of the Conservtive and Republican parties — Espinal reportedly opposes both a woman’s right to choose and same sex marriage. If that’s not enough, Espinal has also petitioned to get on the ballot of one of those parties created solely for the purpose of a special election: in this case, United We Can.

The Working Families Party, which often endorses the Democratic candidate, has put up its own candidate in this race: Jesus Gonzalez, an organizer with the immigrant rights group Make the Road. He also has support from the anti-Lopez group, New Kings Democrats.

A third candidate — Deidra Towns, sister of the former Assembly member and daughter of Rep. Edolphus Towns — is also making a bid to get on the ballot.

The Towns faction and the Lopez faction have been at odds, and some see the outcome of this as a high-stakes proxy fight. ” If Deidra Towns is victorious, the argument goes, there would be a ripple effect for the congressional players involved. Ed Towns would emerge stronger for his 2012 reelection bid against a Lopez-backed challenger like Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and {U.S. Rep Nydia] Velzquezs position would be strengthened to battle Lopez over Diana Reynas open [City} Council seat in 2013,” Colin Campbell recently wrote in City Hall.

Towns, though, had to petition to get on the ballot, unlike the handpicked candidates of party organizations who simply have to file a certificate of acceptance. Now at least two people have challenged those petitions in an effort, most likely, to push her of the ballot. Would it be too conspiratorial to think Lopez at al might have something to do with those?

Meanwhile Espinal faces a challenge of his own. Several people are questioning his signatures for the United We Can line.

The other races seem more clear-cut. In the 23rd Assembly District in Queens, Philip Golfeder, an aide to Sen. Charles Schumer and former aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and onetime City Councilmember Simcha Felder, has Democratic, Independence and Working Families Party backing for the seat in the 23rd district, left vacant when Audrey Pheffer left to become Queens County clerk. Jane Deacy is the Republican/Conservative candidate. Vivian Carter has filed to get on the ballot as the Green Party candidate but documents from the Board of Elections indicate possible problems with her filing papers.

In Queens 27th district, Michael Simanowitz has the Democratic, Independence and Working Families Party lines in his bid to replace his former boss, Nettie Mayersohn, who resigned earlier this year to, she said, spend more time with her family. He will face Republican/Conservative Marco Desena. Justin Wax Jacobs , a former president of the Student Association at University of Albany, is trying to join them get on the ballot, but his petitions have been challenged.

And in Manhattan, attorney Daniel Quart, the choice of most of the borough’s Democratic establishment, has the Democratic and Working Families Party lines in the race to replace Jonathan Bing, who also left the Assembly for a job in the Cuomo administration. He will face Republican and Independence Party candidate Paul Niehaus, also an attorney.

By on July 20, 2011, 10:21 am
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany | 4 Comments »

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4 Responses to “Previewing the Special Elections”

  1. Dan-the-Man Says:
    July 21st, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    The hyperlink attached to WFP-endorsed candidate Jesus Gonzalez incorrectly links to an interview with his opponent – Rafael Espinal

  2. Luis A. Ramos Says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 7:32 am

    The Correct Link Is:

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