By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Incumbents are the guys in office,
Sometimes theyre the gals,
Usually they stick together,
Theyre all political pals.
Here in Queens, New York City,
The incumbents always win,
They work so hard to insure,
That the "ins" are always in.
Now of all the elected officials,
There are some to be respected,
Improving lives of constituents,
And making sure to get re-elected.
Its of little import what they do,
Their record is of little matter,
Raise the bucks, work the PACs,
Make campaign warchests fatter.
And so incumbents are convinced,
Name recognition cant be beat,
With the bucks and paid-for-mail,
Its another term repeat.
And so we have it here in Queens,
With very little exception,
If an incumbents on the ballot,
Theyre gonna win election.
This little ditty is to amuse,
And explain to you my writing,
The local elections that I cover,
Just arent too exciting.
So follow all the candidates,
And use some critical thought,
And cast your vote each election,
As if it cant be bought.
Hold your breath, pull the lever,
In primary or general election,
And be a part of democracy,
With warts and severe infection.
ELECTION TIME: Yup! Welcome to Queens where the incumbent
always wins. No, its not the law although we know several who would
like it to be. Its just the way it is.
Sure, we could go back a couple of decades and cite the inspired
campaign that enabled Nettie Mayersohn (27th AD) to topple Don Manes incumbent in a
Dem Primary. Then, of course, there is a seesaw seat that has gone back and forth between
the parties, presently occupied by Ann-Margaret Carrozza (26th AD). And, every 10 years,
redistricting changes the lines and invites upsets. Old-timers will recall the Nydia
Velazquez Congressional triumph over Steve Solarz in the then newly-drawn Hispanic 12th
But back to the point: it just doesnt normally happen. Incumbents
In this years elections, Queens County has 30 governmental,
elected positions up for grabs seven Congressional, seven State Senators, 16
Assemblymembers. Of 30 incumbents, 29 are seeking re-election.
CONGRESS: The seven Congressional seats (Gary Ackerman 5th, Greg
Meeks 6th, Joe Crowley 7th, Anthony Weiner 9th, Nydia Velazquez 12th, Carolyn Maloney 14th
and Nita Lowey 18th) will all remain Democratic. None of these seats, in their present
configuration, have been occupied by a Republican. Its just never going to happen
unless lines change, populations change or catastrophe strikes. So the only way to beat an
incumbent is in a September Dem Primary.
Weve reported that Joe Crowley will be challenged by Councilman
Walter McCaffrey. However, unless McCaffrey, a shrewd political operative in his own
right, has performed fundraising miracles, we expect to see him outgunned and outspent by
incumbent Crowley backed by the Queens Dem organization. That is, unless McCaffrey decides
hes better off squirreling away the money raised, not running and waiting for
another day like Borough Prez in 2001.
Likewise, Brooklyns Anthony Weiner faces a primary challenge from
Councilman Noach Dear. Dear previously lost this seat to a novice Weiner in a four-way
race. Weiner has done a more than credible job of establishing himself and making friends.
There is little reason to expect any surprises here.
Look for all Queens Congressional members to be back in DC in January.
STATE SENATE: Queens has five Dems (Malcolm Smith 10th, Ada
Smith 12th, Dan Hevesi 13th, George Onorato 14th, Toby Stavisky 16th) and two Republicans
(Frank Padavan 11th, Serph Maltese 15th).
Malcolm Smith, the States newest Senator, would be the candidate
most likely to be tested. Former Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins, who may have recognition
in her old smaller Assembly district, will likely challenge Smith but will be overwhelmed
and outspent in the Senate District. The GOP has crossed endorsed Smiths candidacy
so much for the two party system.
Ada (the other Smith with the same press release) may also receive a
challenge but rumors of Lawrence McCleans viable candidacy are likely exaggerated.
Expect GOP Chair Maltese to receive his courtesy free ride, while
Republican Frank Padavan will face an aggressive challenge from Rory Lancman. But the
Albany and Queens County Dems are unlikely to invest any resources against Padavan who
consistently proves he owns his district.
The Repubs to date have only been able to find one candidate
Katina Kiourkenidis of Astoria to stand up and lose to the Dem incumbents.
The State Senate? You can expect to see seven out of seven back next
ASSEMBLY: Denis Butler (36th AD, Astoria), the dean of the
Queens Delegation, has announced his retirement. As reported last week, Mike Giannaris
received the Dem designation in this overwhelming Dem district. Fellow Greek and
three-time candidate Kimon Thermos has also announced for the seat. However, the Queens
Dem Party has often managed to persuade candidates out of races to avoid primaries. If
Thermos does make this race, it will be fun to watch an experienced and seasoned Thermos
against a well-oiled Dem machine backed by some big bucks.
As discussed previously, Cathy Nolan will face a Primary challenge from
former ADA Patrick OMalley. Nolan, the incumbent, was denied the Dem endorsement as
a result of her support of McCaffrey over Crowley. However, the recent and tenuous peace
between Dem Leader Manton and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has to some degree
neutralized the Queens organizations involvement. Although OMalley
promises an aggressive door-to-door campaign, Silver will make sure Nolan has the money
and know-how to prevail.
In the seesaw seat (26th) we referred to earlier, which has been held
by former Assemblyman Republican Doug Prescott on three different occasions, look for Ann
Carrozza to have a free ride. The most likely swing seat in the Assembly does not even
have a GOP candidate, as of this writing.
The Queens GOP has so far named only six candidates for the 16 seats.
They are: Anthony Stasi 23rd, Phillip Sica 24th, Michael Roemmelt 28th, Robert Hutchins
33rd, Rafael Merino 34th, Alice Lemos 37th.
The incumbents are: Audrey Pheffer 23rd, Mark Weprin 24th, Brian
McLaughlin 25th, Carrozza 26th, Nettie Mayersohn 27th, Mike Cohen 28th, William
Scarborough 28th, Marge Markey 30th, Pauline Cummings 31st, Vivian Cook 32nd, Barbara
Clark 33rd, Ivan Lafayette 34th, Jeff Aubry 35th, Nolan 37th, Anthony Seminerio 38th.
There is always the possibility that another candidate will make the
ballot and we shall report that to you.
Another candidate winning?
Cmon, this is Queens. Incumbents win.
WANNA BET? Mike Giannaris (who weve never met) plus 29 of
30 incumbents plus will be the winners in November!
Liz Goff contributed to this column
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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