Compiling a list of winners and losers after a political primary can be a provisional exercise. After all, two months from now many of the people who came out on top this week will be giving concession speeches after the general election.
But Tuesday’s partisan voting in New York state lends itself to this sort of analysis because the state’s decidedly blue tint frequently makes the Democratic primary the only vote that matters. But not always, as two decades of Republican mayors in deep-blue New York City prove.
With that caveat, here’s a rundown of the individuals and categories of candidates who walked away smiling or scarred from this year’s semifinal political tournament:
Winner: Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state’s top Democrat managed to avoid living with New York City Comptroller Eliot Spitzer for the next four years. Spitzer, the former governor and attorney general, was defeated by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a vanilla candidate who became immensely more flavorful to the Democratic establishment the minute Spitzer jumped into the race.
Best of all for Cuomo, Spitzer’s loss happened without him appearing to lift a finger. For a governor pondering primary endorsements, “The downside of being wrong is so much worse than the upside of being right,” said one longtime political insider.
Instead, the governor made exactly one endorsement, of Buffalo’s incumbent Mayor Byron Brown, and watched him cruise to victory.
In the New York City mayoral race, Cuomo will be able to count on a warm history with whoever occupies Gracie Mansion in January: Republican candidate Joe Lhota served as his chief of the Metropolitan Transit Authority; the top Democratic contender, current city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, worked under Cuomo during his tenure as HUD secretary. (Cuomo is also on good terms with Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller who hopes to force …read more