When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
-- Yogi Berra (1925 - )
We have reached the point of no return on the final round of Downtown politics. For a Democratic town, the Primary is THE election. The most relevant for us are the District 1 and District 3 City Council (the two affecting SoHo) and Manhattan District Attorney races.
Essentially, the City Council races are the Gerson/Gleason/Chin contest (CD1), the Quinn/Kurland face-off (CD3) and the Manhattan District Attorney Vance, Aborn, Snyder contest.
Calling any of these races is next to impossible.
Quinn has suffered from some serious mudslinging and rancor from community activists over the DSNY garage, the Trump SoHo behemoth and disaffection from her support of the term-limits rollback. Support of tenants, as a bedrock of her community support has been tepid since she is perceived as someone who has failed to really target the landlord games that still permit stabilized tenants to be evicted using the “lawsuit ploy” and does not at all protect market rate tenants from gouging once their one or two year lease expires. Tenants who complain do not get a lease renewal.
However, Quinn is an able politician who knows how to navigate in a dangerous environment. Despite the accusations regarding “Slushgate” it is a fantasy to suppose that Council funds (or those in any other elected office) are not part of the risk-reward system that politics is about. Running a campaign, not to mention living your life, under possible indictment takes a strong, dedicated person. Toughness counts for something, even if you don’t agree with the person who is running.
Kurland, on the other hand, is untested but has gained substantial support from community activists who want a clean sweep. Her bona fides seem to stem from gay rights and a willingness to confront issues important to the community. Her support has substantially grown in recent weeks and those who have written her off initially are now thinking twice.
The Gerson, Gleason, Chin contest is another race that is impossible to call.
While Gerson is the incumbent, his growing unpopularity has only been upstaged by a badly managed campaign. To have lost matching funds and a place on the ballot for a time shows a massive lack of competence – at least about running a contested election. Gerson, by his decisions, seems to have been massively unprepared for a challenge. Not without basis contenders, such as Pete Gleason, have pointed out that this alone shows that Gerson is not qualified to run again. Most of the verbal fisticuffs have occurred between Gerson and Gleason (who backed away from challenging Alan in the last election) and that has not been lost on the minds of voters in the Village, SoHo and Tribeca. Gleason has confronted the incumbent and there is no question that he has damaged Gerson, whose prior popularity has been based up being known as “a nice guy.”
Margaret Chin really is a “wild” card. While having been criticized as somewhat provincial due to her base in Chinatown, her housing activist background is clearly her community-based “ticket-to-ride.” Chin’s often touted 6000 vote base may, in fact, carry her over the top.
But, this race could go in any direction.
The Power race, of course, is the District Attorney race.
Aborn has been the early favorite Downtown. He is seen as a strong, progressive politician who is attractive and falls on the right side of liberal ideals for what we want in Justice.
Snyder is seen by many who support the “woman” card as a guaranteed winner. She has backed off from her previous position, which seemed to support the death penalty and according to her campaign mentor, Jim McManus, is a tough judge who will win the election. According to him, she got the hard cases from Morgenthau and will be a tough, but fair, D.A.
Cy Vance has been the object of a few jabs by Snyder and his campaign surged within the last several months. His progressive agenda is similar to Aborn’s and is popular Downtown.
The fact that the New York Times, New York Post and Daily News have endorsed him has been something of a surprise.
This race cannot be called, either.
Vote in the Primary on September 15th!