Monday, October 5, 2009

Liu and de Blasio Win Run-Offs; 2nd Ave Subway Frustration

This week, John Liu and Bill de Blasio were victorious in their run-off races for Comptroller and Public Advocate, respectively. Separately, frustration builds regarding the slow pace of the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway.

Liu Defeats Yassky in Comptroller Race

John Liu defeated David Yassky in the run-off from Comptroller by a significant 12% margin, making Liu the first Asian-American elected to city-wide office in New York City and making Liu one of the highest ranking Asian-American elected officials in the United States. Yassky's support from the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and US Senator Chuck Schumer was not enough to mount a major challenge to the solid union support enjoyed by John Liu.

There is a lesson in this election contest. The editorial boards have less impact on results than organized support on the ground. Yassky and Liu were excellent candidates who went toe to toe in the race and saw the organized support of organized labor carry Liu to a clear victory.

de Blasio Trounces Green in the Public Advocate Run-Off

Bill de Blasio defeated Mark Green by an eye-popping 26%. Unlike the Comptroller race that demonstrated the influence of organized labor in a low-turnout race, the Public Advocate race was a demonstration of the groundswell of support for the idea of anointing a new leader in New York City and a consensus against bringing back a leader from the past.

Mark Green had served as Public Advocate during the Giuliani years and never overcame the image of a politician who does not realize that he should have left the stage and not returned. Green ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1998. He sought the state Attorney General's office unsuccessfully in 2006, and he had been unsuccessful as a candidate for other offices.

de Blasio is also one of the few members of the New York City Council who vigorously opposed Mayor Bloomberg's successful efforts to change the City Charter to allow himself to seek a third consecutive term as the Mayor of New York City. Several City Council members who supported the Mayor's term limits change were defeated, and de Blasio's opposition of the Mayor undoubtedly helped him. Green had offered to allow Giuliani to serve longer than allowed by the City Charter after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and that contrasted with de Blasio's opposition to Bloomberg in a manner than benefited de Blasio in the primary.

We look forward to seeing how de Blasio and Liu perform in the years ahead.

Second Avenue Subway

With delays and budget over-runs continuing to mount on the 2nd Avenue Subway project, the MTA's Inspector General has initiated an investigation of the project.

Manhattan will benefit from the 2nd Avenue Subway project. It has received significant financial support from the federal government, and our local efforts must be carefully managed to ensure that further delays and and excess costs are avoided.

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