Monday, September 15, 2008

Vito’s Bad Days Go Unreported

By reading the political blogs and newspapers you would never know that Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Vito Lopez lost most of the important contested contests over the past few years.

This year Lopez backed Senator Martin Connors and lost. More importantly his power block of voters in Williamsburg is clearly split, with the new Satmar faction headed by Rabbi Glanz/UJCARE, followers of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum winning over a third of the vote for Squadron. Connor received 90.86 percent of the Chassidic vote when he ran against Diamondstone two years ago, but only 64.83 percent to Squadron's 35.17 percent on Tuesday. Vito and his Williamsburg faction of Rabbi Niederman/UJO, followers of Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, no longer have the field all to themselves. A bigger problem for Lopez with Connor’s defeat was that Squadron is a Schumer backed candidate. Our senator has a long memory; part of that remembrance is Lopez heading up Democrats for D'Amato. Will the emerging Schumer machine defeat Vito’s smoke and mirrors operation?

The county leader also lost the only contested judicial race in Brooklyn. Devin Cohen besides having a tax problem beat Vito’s candidate Roger Adler. Lopez also lost in the 40AD where Inez Barron beat his candidate Earl Williams easy.

In the boroughs other contested races, Lopez were busy playing all the candidates in their private discussions that- I am really with you game. Vito endorsed State Senator Parker the winner, but also was involved in both of his opponent’s campaigns. Councilman Stewart told election lawyer Mitch Alter that he would have problems with Vito if he hired him or consultant Gary Tilzer. If you look at the over half million dollars his other opponent Felder spent you would see that most of them consisted of a lot of Vito supporters and contributors. Since Vito supported Republicans in the past (D’Amato, Pataki and Giuliani) many in Brooklyn felt he was involved with the effort against Malcolm Smith to split the black vote in the 21st Senate District to elect Felder and to keep Republican control of the State Senate.

Even with the re-election of Parker and Silver there are signs in the few competitive judicial races that occurred, that voters are much more willing to vote against the machine. Despite the public growing signs of disgust with their dysfunctional government, the growing crime wave among their elected offices and most importantly the dismal won/loss record of county leaders, 2009 citywide candidates seem more and more willing to listen to the dictates of the county leaders in efforts to get their support. Perhaps that says more about their governing abilities and intelligence then they think.

The 2007 victory of now Surrogate Court Judge Johnson against Vito’s machine, he only beat her by less than 100 votes in his home district (53AD) is all but forgotten. So was Surrogate Court Judge Lopez Torres victory against the Brooklyn machine in 2005 in what can only be described as a collective mental block by the 2009 mayoral, controller, public advocate candidates and even the media. There has never been an analysis by any of the press of how independent coalitions were put together to block the machine for the first time in 100 years from the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court. It is time for the media to understand that independent candidates and consultants give the voters a real voice against the thugs in this town who control campaigns, elective and party office.

And it does not help that the line between the reform clubs in Brooklyn and Vito judicial picks becomes increasingly more blearily, as the clubs endorsed more and more of his judicial candidates, ignoring the fact that while they might be good candidates it is the political system of control which causes the corruption and lack of reform.

Perhaps Lopez should learn a lesson in control from the Queens Democratic leaders, who buy off their endorsed candidates opponents before the voters have a chance to go to the polls. Both Senator Sabini and Assemblymen Lafayette got new jobs to make way for this year’s parties endorsed candidates. After petitioning and getting on the ballot, Baldeo who decided not to campaign in this year primaries for a Senate seat, for which he received 49% of the vote two years ago, had been in talks all summer with the leaders of the Queens machine.

Vito is not the only county leader who had a bad day on Tuesday. In the opening battle of the racial charged Bronx Civil War the Rainbow Revels defend the party organization and Chairman Jose Rivera attacked on Assemblymen Heastie, Ruben Diaz Jr. and Michael Benjamin by party-supported candidates. In addition, the Civil Court candidate the revels backed, Liz Taylor, had a big win (54 percent) against her challengers, Maria Matos (the party candidate) and Verena Powell. In Manhattan the county organization lost all three of their contested judicial races.

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