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The AG Race

September 10, 2010

It’s not over, and, in fact, almost anything could happen between now and next Tuesday, but we thought we’d take stock of the AG’s race, which has been very entertaining. 

There are five smart and qualified candidates (six if you add the GOP nominee) who have engaged in a respectable campaign both in terms of the issues discussed and political strategies employed. 

Sen. Eric Schneiderman now appears to be in the lead, having secured endorsements from key voting blocs that traditionally help determine winners in Dem primaries – unions, minorities, gays, Jews and seniors. This was classic strategy engineered by Schneiderman’s ex-wife, the respected union operative Jennifer Cunningham, whom we’ve written about recently. 

Sean Coffey effectively portrayed himself as the “outsider” in the race and ran a near flawless campaign. He seemed a little tight and negative in the critical last debate. This was after performing extremely well in prior debates, and developing the rep as the “thinking man’s” candidate. He still has a chance, which depends in great degree on how he deploys his resources at the close.  

Kathleen Rice, once the frontrunner, simply did not run a good campaign. There were all kinds of revelations: She didn’t vote for decades. She admitted to “dabbling” in cocaine and marijuana after law school. She was panned by most editorial boards as having “a limited grasp” of the issues. And yet, Rice isn’t out of it. Her ads were good and she benefits by being the only woman in the race.    

Eric Dinallo worked hardest and did the best job of retail politics. He traveled across the state and came off as likable and well-informed. He also did well in debates, but struggled with something beyond his control: Cuomo and party leaders aren’t looking for another Italian-American on the statewide ticket. This seems trivial and unfair, but it was apparently true. 

Richard Brodsky, the old lion of the Assembly, was not very energetic at the start of the campaign, but he came on toward the end and shined in debates as the sharp and irascible guy he is. 

Two things could be late game changers in the race: A Cuomo endorsement and, the GOTV effort. 

Rice had been viewed as Cuomo’s favorite and benefitted from that perception in fund raising, but the inside word is that union forces are pressing Cuomo to endorse their man, Schneiderman. Coffee is also in the running for a Cuomo endorsement. We can’t imagine that Cuomo, running his own extremely cautious campaign, will make an endorsement, but he might do something to help ensure that a Schneiderman victory isn’t viewed as a repudiation of his earlier lobbying for Rice. That something might involve saying nice things in public about Schneiderman and Coffee.   

The Get Out of the Vote effort, in the end, will be the key. And Schneiderman would appear to have the edge. The union leadership understands that stakes involved in this race – Schneiderman could be their only friend in Albany next year – but does the rank and file membership get it? If so, Schneiderman could prevail. If not, Coffey or Rice could pull it out. 

And waiting for the victor, is Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, a solid candidate backed by Team Bloomberg. More on that another day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. i dont support candidate who leave the scene of an accident permalink
    September 12, 2010 12:20 AM

    I can’t believe that Schneiderman was able to get past that hit-and-run incident. Leaving the scene of an accident makes him completely unqualified to be AG. He has no integrity, just a typical Albany politician.

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