The race for Sheldon Silver’s seat in the NYS Assembly has been getting a lot of press in the days ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
The Wall Street Journal had a lengthy look at the candidates, focusing on how they stand up to Silver’s tarnished legacy. Paul Newell, who challenged Silver directly in a primary eight years ago, accused Alice Cancel, the special election winner in April, of being too close to Silver’s “old-line machine background” that is “not the world we live in anymore.” Cancel’s supporters have always disputed the notion that she is Silver’s hand-picked successor, despite the high-profile support in April of members of Silver’s inner circle including his chief of staff, cooperator Judy Rapfogel.
The WSJ also reveals the fact that Silver, according to board of election records, did not vote in April’s special election. (Now sentenced for federal corruption, Silver is ineligible to vote on Tuesday.)
The New York Times ran an article last week highlighting the diversity of the six Democrats and how that might play out with the many ethnic groups in the district. If identity politics win out, the three candidates born in Asia — Don Lee, Gigi Li, and Yuh-Line Niou — could split the growing Chinatown block. Cancel, the only Latino candidate in the race, indicated she was counting on affinity groups playing a big part in the outcome. Though an analysis by a voter data expert said that by far the largest block of prime voters (who are more likely to come out for a primary) are of European descent, which could favor Paul Newell, the only white male in the crowded field.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a bit of information on each candidate to help you make up your mind, read this article from Gotham Gazette, which does a good job of providing a 10,000-foot view of the race.
Two weeks ago we asked cooperators to send in their personal endorsements for candidates for Tuesday’s primary. We also reached out to each of the six campaigns for endorsements from East River Cooperators. We got one response, from cooperator Susan Levinson, who sent in the following endorsement for Paul Newell:
Several weeks ago, I attended a Meet and Greet event at East River for Paul Newell and Lee Berman. Previously I hadn’t known too much about Paul, although I’d certainly heard good things about him. It’s a huge understatement to say that I was *incredibly* impressed with Paul, to the extent whereby I’ve been volunteering for his campaign ever since (and it’s been many years since I last devoted serious time to a candidate’s campaign). What impressed me the most — aside from Paul’s tireless efforts as our district leader, his work on various issues and his genuine earnestness — was his innate kindness. I really think that combination is quite a rarity in politicians and therefore I think Paul would make a *superb* State Assemblyman.
If you missed last week’s forum on Mott Street, here’s a much more proximate chance for you to hear from the six Democrats vying to succeed Sheldon Silver as our Assemblymember:
Tuesday, August 23
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Abrons Arts Center Playhouse
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street)
The Democratic primary is September 13. Because of the overwhelming enrollment advantage of Democrats in this district, the winner of the primary is expected to win the seat after the general election.
The organizers ask that you RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you expect to attend. (Though they tell me you’ll still be welcome if you decide to come last-minute.)
Expect to see a lot of campaign mail from Jenifer Rajkumar over the next four weeks.
Though Rajkumar’s fundraising has dried up over the past month of the campaign, she still leads all candidates with cash on hand with $182.826 according to campaign finance reports filed over the weekend — almost twice as much as her nearest competitor, Paul Newell, who shows $92,347 on hand.
There are six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Assembly District 65. Given the heavily Democratic makeup of this district, the winner of the September 13 primary will most likely win the general election to succeed our convicted former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.
Alice Cancel, who currently holds the seat after winning a special election this past April, comes in dead last in fundraising and cash on hand. Cancel raised nothing through the beginning of July and only $7,000 since, almost all of which comes from PACs and other campaign committees. Cancel has only $9,151 on hand for the final stretch of this race, though in April she defeated Yuh-Line Niou despite being heavily outspent.
Rounding out the candidates: Gigi Li has $72,554 on hand, Yuh-Line Niou has $67,936 on hand, and Don Lee, who raised a huge amount to start the year, has already spent heavily — his campaign signs are visible everywhere in Chinatown — and now has only $22,171 on hand.
Money, of course, is not everything. But in a low-turnout primary for (essentially) an open seat, direct mail and other printed material will be essential for candidates to gain name recognition and get out the vote.
The special election for Sheldon Silver’s old Assembly seat this past spring was just the appetizer. November’s election for a full two-year term is dessert. The main course in this heavily Democratic district is the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 13.
On Sunday afternoon, all six Democratic candidates for Assembly District 65 will meet to answer questions at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, 62 Mott Street. The event starts at 2pm.
These are the candidates:
Alice Cancel is a long-time district leader who won the special election in April and served in Albany for the end of the legislative session. (Website)
Don Lee is a businessman who has served roles in city government for four mayors. (Website)
Gigi Li recently finished a stint as chair of Community Board 3. (Website)
Paul Newell is a Democratic district leader and community activist. He challenged Silver in a primary 2008. (Website)
Yuh-Line Niou was chief of staff for Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens. She ran on the Working Families ballot line in the April special election. (Website)
Jenifer Rajkumar is a lawyer and Democratic district leader. She challenged Councilmember Margaret Chin in 2013. (Website)
Alice Cancel won 39.2% of the vote in yesterday’s special election for Sheldon Silver’s NYS Assembly seat, enough to put her on top and give her the seat at least through the end of 2016.
Despite raising much more money and attracting establishment endorsements from Democratic elected officials, traditional Democratic unions, and the New York Times, Yuh-Line Niou, on the Working Families Party line, won only 33.6%. Republican Lester Chang won 18.9%; Green Party candidate Dennis Levy won 3.6%.
Meanwhile, in the presidential primary, the state’s winners (Clinton and Trump) also prevailed at East River Coop:
NY1’s Errol Louis sat down this evening with all four candidates for assembly district 65. The debate is brief — only 20 minutes — but if you haven’t had a chance to make your own impression of the candidates, this might be your best chance. There’s some serious policy discussion, plus some frivolous questions. Take a look.
State finance reports for the special election were filed 32 days and 11 days before election day, showing what campaigns have raised and spent. The 11-day pre-special election reports were made public this morning. Here’s a very quick review:
Alice Cancel raised $501 in the past three weeks — for a total of $4,316 raised and $3,736 cash on hand.
By far her largest contribution has been $3,000 from United Service Workers United.
Other contributions have been small ($100 or less) mostly from addresses down Madison, Monroe, and Cherry Streets where Cancel lives.
The disparity between Cancel and Niou in particular is astounding to me — Niou has raised 37 times what Cancel has. Niou has enough on hand for a robust get-out-the-vote operation and mail, especially considering her support from unions like SEIU, UFT, and HTC that will likely spend their own PAC money on mail this week.
But don’t count Cancel out. Despite anemic fundraising under her own name, the Democratic nominee is likely to see her campaign run by the NYS DACC (Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee), which as of January (the committee’s last state finance report) had $1.2 million cash on hand, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from unions now supporting Niou.