Press Clips: Looking Back on 2018 and Ahead to 2019

Robert Press, columnist, Press Clips

Looking Back on 2018 and Ahead to 2019

In looking back on 2018 term limits were not needed to retire two long time incumbents. Ten-term incumbent Congressman Joseph Crowley who didn’t have a primary since 2004 lost to an unknown challenger by the name of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the June Democratic Primary. While Crowley remained on the November General Election ballot on the Working Families party line, Ocasio-Cortez swept to victory easily to become the new Congresswoman from the 14th Congressional District.

Also sent into retirement was former State Senator Jeff Klein, who was elected to the state senate in 2004. In the 34th Senate District Jeff Klein also faced someone who had never run for office. Like Crowley, his challenger was also a woman, Alessandra Biaggi who had worked for Governor Andrew Cuomo. Klein was facing the granddaughter of a very popular former Democratic congressman who lived in Riverdale, by the name of Mario Biaggi. Voters in Riverdale overwhelmingly went for Ms. Biaggi over the man many had called a DINO (Democrat in name only).

Over his career, Klein rose to become one of the four men in the room in Albany, as head of an eight-member group called the Independent Democratic Conference that negotiated a power-sharing alliance with Senate Republicans. The election of Donald Trump as President in November of 2016 made it bad luck to be associated with Republicans in 2017, especially in New York. In November of 2017 groups banded together with one goal in mind, to rid the state senate of the IDC. Early in 2018 Senator Klein disbanded the IDC, and rejoined the Senate Democratic Conference. The deals were already done however to give each of the eight members of the IDC primaries.

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That alliance, however, came back to haunt his re-election effort in 2018 and served as a catalyst for young progressives who successfully ousted him and six of the eight ex-IDC members last September. The only two ex-IDCers to win re-election were State Senators Diane Savino (Brooklyn/Staten Island) and David Carlucci (Rockland County). On Monday, it was announced that Klein would be joining Mercury Public Affairs as co-chairman of the lobbying firm’s New York operation.

Politically, 2019 should have been a very quiet off-year, but with now former Public Advocate Letitia James resigning to become New York State Attorney General position, there’ll now be a special election to fill the vacant position of Public Advocate. Dozens of elected officials and others (18 and counting) associated with politics have announced their candidacy for the special election which will take place on Tuesday February 26, 2019. There will be a short time to gather the needed over 3,000-plus signatures to get on the ballot for the non-partisan special election. Candidates must come up with various nonpartisan party names to run under. The winner will have to run again in the November general election and could face a primary challenge in September. The only other races would be that of Bronx District Attorney, and possibly a few judgeships that will be known after the September primary.

Another reason 2019 will also be a key year, hinges on it as a run up to the presidential (April)and congressional primaries. Governor Cuomo and state leaders have pledged to consolidate the federal and state primary elections (instead of the current June and September ones). There’s speculation that Cuomo may toss his hat into to presidential ring. Whatever happens, 2020 will end with either a new president or four more years of Donald Trump.

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