Saturday, December 13, 2008

 

Sizing up the field: New York City Democratic Primary 2009

We all have our little pet projects or in this case elections. New York City Mayoral contests are my pet projects. The ability to win in this City of New York requires a careful balancing of diverse coalitions that one does need to maintain in any other election.
35% of New York is White non-Hispanic, 25% of New Yorkers are African-American, 9% are white and Hispanic (27% identify themselves as Hispanic), 12% are Asian, and 19% identify themselves in separate cateorgies. New York is for lack of a better term a "melting pot".
With that in mind, each candidate needs the backing of at least one ethnic segment of the population to succeed. Gifford Miller's (WASP) 2005 Mayoral bid fell apart because he appealed to nobody. Anthony Weiner was able to come in second place to Jewish backing and becoming the non-Hispanic alternative to Fernando Ferrer.
In 2009, we have three declared candidates each with possible coalitions.

William Thompson, City Comptroller, is African-American and has proved himself able to win city wide elections in New York City. Described as "mild" mannered by the New York Times, Thompson will have to be able to erase any memories of the last (and only) African American to be Mayor of New York (David Dinkins). Because he has won city-wide elections in New York and proved himself to be a more than capable comptroller, I expect Thompson to be quite the formative opponent in 2009. It also doesn't hurt that he has raised nearly 5 million dollars already.

Anthony Weiner, Congressman from New York's 9th district, is Jewish and has already run a campaign for New York City Mayor. Weiner's 2005 campaign appeared from almost out of nowhere and nearly forced a runoff by almost keeping Ferrer under 40% in the Democratic Primary. He was a strong voice against on the debate over term limits. He is a formidable debater and will no doubt be able to raise funds by tapping into New York's large and wealthy Jewish population. As New York Democratic Mayoral primaries usually comes down to a White vs. Minority Candidate (Dinkins v. Koch, Messinger v. Sharpton, Green v. Ferrer, and Ferrer v. Weiner), it is quite possible that Weiner maybe the white candidate against Thompson.

Tony Avella, a City Councilman from Queen's 19th district, is Italian and looks at least at first glance like Mario Procaccino (look it up) reincarnated. Avella will be the underdog in this election and has never run a city wide race. He is against over-development, wants English store signs (not in replacement of foreign language signs, but with them in equal size as well), and believes "Department of Education's policy is discriminatory towards Christians. He believes, as many Christians do, that a Christmas tree is not representative of the religious significance of Christmas" (Avella's campaign website). Can you come up with a worse candidate that will not only not appeal to minorities, but also not appeal to Jews? I can't.

When and if other candidates declare, I hope to take a look at their potential chances as well.

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