How Weird New York Laws Keep Candidates on the Ballot

In June, Democratic Socialists of America candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned political observers by defeating longtime high-ranking Democratic congressman Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District. In the midst of the million hot takes on what this all means ideologically for the future of the Democratic Party, something weird was happening at the nuts-and-bolts level of political process: Crowley is still slated to appear on the ballot in November on the Working Families Party ticket. Crowley said he accepted defeat and wasn’t running against Ocasio-Cortez in the general election, but he also doesn’t plan to take the steps necessary to remove his name from the ballot, which caused a minor blowup between the two campaigns.

This gave the rest of the country another opportunity to look at New York state politics and say, “Huh?” Several quirks within New York’s political culture, mainly the institution of electoral fusion, whereby a single candidate can appear multiple times on the ballot endorsed by multiple political parties, are to blame for this situation. Also in play is a law that was passed in the 1940s to deal with another insurgent socialist congressional candidate. The kicker is that this scenario might repeat itself when New York has its next primary in September. (Oh, in case you didn’t know: There’s going to be another primary in September.)

Fusion: A brief, weird history

Prior to the 1890s, electoral ballots, as we know them today, didn’t exist: Voters would drop a piece of paper into a box that was placed at government-specified polling places. People could write their choices out longhand at home, but most submitted preprinted ballots handed out by political parties instead. Multiple parties could — and often did — endorse the same candidate, making electoral fusion the norm in the nineteenth century. During an era where political parties were more about community identity and patronage networks than about coherent ideologies, a Democratic candidate, for example, could broker a deal to tap into the small but fervent Populist Party’s voter pool.

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At the end of the century, though, a shift to the so-called Australian ballot system that we know today occurred, where voters were given an identical ballot at a polling place that listed all the candidates for each office and then could choose one in secret. This transformation upended the American political system in many ways, one being that it gave state and local governments the ability to set the rules about who appeared on ballots, and allowed them to set up the system by which the parties choose their candidates. And in many states, the big parties aimed to put an end to fusion voting. As one Republican state legislator in Minnesota put it, “We don’t propose to allow the Democrats to make allies of the Populists, Prohibitionists, or any other party, and get up combination tickets against us. We can whip them single-handed, but don’t intend to fight all creation.” But in 1911, a Court of Appeals struck down an attempt to legislate away fusion in New York, which remains one of only eight states where fusion voting persists. 

Old-time socialism

In the 1940s, New York’s establishment took another stab at reigning in fusion voting. At the time, anyone could run in any party’s primary or in multiple party primaries, in fact. Congressman Vito Marcantonio, an East Harlem socialist, identified as a member of the American Labor Party, which was widely viewed as a Communist front; but he routinely won Democratic and Republican primaries in his district during his six terms in office, much to the displeasure of those parties’ leaders. In response, the New York legislature passed the Wilson-Pakula Act, which forbade candidates from seeking a party’s endorsement unless they were enrolled as a member of that party or had gotten the blessing of the party’s leaders.

Now, big party candidates court third-party leadership to secure an endorsement, and to ensure they can appear on the ballot in more than one place. The goal for a third party, as explained in a paper published by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School, is usually not to run an opposing candidate, but to act as a sort of a loosely allied pressure group that steers a candidate’s ideology toward one end of the political spectrum.

Unlike some other minor parties, the Working Families Party, founded in 1998, does not nominate candidates via primaries, but rather through an internal endorsement process that progressive candidates are urged to apply for. In order for things to play out as intended, third parties like the WFP have to successfully predict who the major parties are going to nominate — often easy enough to do thanks to the strength of political machines. The candidates the WFP endorses are mostly Democrats, and even “establishment” New York Democrats like Crowley are progressive enough to get the WFP thumbs-up, as party founder Dan Cantor notes in a Daily News op-ed he wrote to apologize for not backing Ocasio-Cortez.

An establishment candidate ending up on the third-party line while the insurgent has major party backing is pretty much the opposite of what everyone wants. And indeed, the WFP has urged Crowley to withdraw from its ballot line. The problem is that this turns out to be much easier said than done.

Stuck on the ballot with you

If Crowley were in Texas, for example, he could get removed from the ballot just by making a request in writing. But New York’s rules are more strict; he has to invalidate his candidacy somehow. In this instance, Crowley could accept the WFP’s nomination in a different race that he knows he won’t win. (Rick Lazio did this when he lost the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary to Carl Paladino after he had already secured the Conservative Party nomination.) He could also register to vote in another state; like many members of Congress, he maintains a home in the Northern Virginia suburbs, so the WFP is actually urging him to register to vote there.

Gerald Benjamin, director of the Benjamin Center at State University of New York at New Paltz, says he suspects the system is set up this way to prevent political parties from swapping out candidates on a whim, possibly in defiance of primary voters.

At any rate, Crowley is on the record as not wanting to either fake-run for some other office or pretend-move to Virginia, saying he sees both as dishonest. (His third option, dying, similarly lacks appeal.) And so Crowley will be on the ballot in November. But since he’s not actively campaigning, nobody seems to think he imperils Ocasio-Cortez’s candidacy. But these convoluted threads are just the prologue to another, more important big fight: the gubernatorial election.

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Nixon’s the one…maybe

The WFP endorsed Andrew Cuomo in both his previous gubernatorial races, but the relationship between him and the party has never been warm, exactly. In 2010, he only agreed to accept the party’s endorsement if they signed off on his proposed budget, which included cuts to the unionized state workforce. But by 2018 he’d attracted enough labor allies to convince several big unions to pull their support for the WFP. He also essentially created the Women’s Equality Party out of thin air, and many suspect he chose the name to confuse voters. Not surprisingly, the WEP endorsed Cuomo this year.

Meanwhile, the WFP endorsed Cynthia Nixon. But despite her insurgent politics, Nixon isn’t planning on taking the fight to November if Cuomo defeats her in the September primary. Instead, it appears the WFP plans to run her as a candidate for state assembly against Democrat Deborah Glick — whom Nixon would then campaign for, not against.

The reasons for this move have to do with the high stakes for the gubernatorial election. Despite the bad blood all around, neither Nixon nor the WFP particularly want to see her serving as a spoiler that throws the race to Republican Marcus Molinaro. But that outcome seems unlikely. The real issue is the future of the WFP. In order to maintain its place on the ballot in New York, a party needs to receive at least 50,000 votes for governor. Nixon might be able to pull this off as a third-party candidate; but in order for the WFP to guarantee the votes it needs, it may be necessary for them make peace with Cuomo if he wins the primary. Polling currently has him as the heavy favorite. If the WFP needs a lesson on what might happen if Nixon is on the ballot in the general election, the party need only remember 2002, when Cuomo abruptly quit the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after securing the Liberal Party endorsement. In the general election, Cuomo failed to win 50,000 votes as a Liberal and sent that venerable party into an effective demise, ironically helping solidify the WFP as the third-party voice of the left.

Cuomo will no doubt set a steep price for accepting the WFP’s endorsement. And as Nixon’s camp has pointed out, Cuomo has received the endorsement of the WEP and the Independence Party, so he’ll still be on the ballot if he loses the Democratic primary, and he’s made no signal that he’ll bow out gracefully. Things could still get weird.


Let’s Stop Caring About A President’s Weight, Please

Yesterday, Barbara Walters sat down with Governor Chris Christie for a live broadcast interview. For his dedication to New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy and the non-partisan, budding friendship with President Obama, the famous newswoman made room for the Governor on her ‘The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012’ list.

She asked him about his thoughts on Romney’s loss, his thoughts on the Atlantic City Mayor who told his citizens to stay put before Sandy and, of course, what he thought about the health implications of his weight with voters.

“That’s ridiculous. I don’t know what the basis is for that,” Mr. Christie said. “I think people watched me doing 18-hour days and getting right back up the next day and still being as effective in the job. So I don’t really think that would be a problem.”
Walters advanced the subject with dieting questions. And Mr. Christie had to tell her that he’s successfully and unsuccessfully tried them numerous times and currently on one now. But, still, the Governor makes a great point: weight is not a problem for voters.
So can we stop worrying so much about it?
We all know that Governor Christie has had a weird past with that weight question. It was mentioned when he was running for Governor; it was mentioned when he was considered for a VP spot; it was mentioned when he was overseeing the relief efforts for Sandy; and it was mentioned last night by none other than Barbara Walters. It’s this fleeting issue the media has created as a backdrop for stories about Mr. Christie, just like how almost every story you read now about Hillary Clinton has that underlying context of “Will she run in 2016?!” And it needs to stop now.
Because, besides the fact that it’s senseless, the weight issue does not hold any water in the world of politics. Yes, the topic is a sensitive issue for Americans – it carries with it many personal and emotional attachments for millions of people – but it’s not something a majority of voters concerned about the future of this country are staying up all night thinking about. Do you think the millions and millions in poverty or on the unemployment line are worried about what happens when their President gets on a scale?
No matter where we are in 2016, any person’s electability boils down to economic reasoning and their persona that’s built off of that. This is why Mitt’s ’47 Percent Moment’ was so devastating for his campaign’s chances. It wasn’t the Mormonism or the flip-flopping or Paul Ryan. It was a video that broadcasted to millions of voters the true sentiments of someone who might possibly lead the country. He simultaneously gaffed about the most basic economic dynamics of American capitalism and offended an enormous constituency of voters (afterwards, further solidifying said sentiments with his ‘gifts‘ rant). It was the nail in the coffin for his Overly Rich Guy persona that he tried so desperately hard to hide from.
The result: his 47 percent showing on Election Night.
Therefore, the weight questions need to disappear faster than Social Security. In the future, let’s ask Mr. Christie what his plans are to fix the many national problems that lie ahead instead of whether or not he’s a fan of the Atkins diet.

NY GOP’s Post-Election Memo: Hispanic Voters Exist

The New York State Republican Party put out its post-election memo over the weekend and — after blaming President Obama for the ills of the world (and the NYS GOP) — Chairman Ed Cox echoed what political experts have been saying since Tuesday (and we’ve been saying for the last five years): Republicans need to embrace Hispanic voters.

For the most part, the memo is NYS GOP Chairman Ed Cox’s campaigning to keep his job — we got a copy, and Cox points to”some” local victories, but blames failures in local races on the large number of voters who turned out for President Obama. He makes no mention, however, of the party’s unpopular positions on many social issues — like abortion, immigration, and gay marriage — that often make Republicans look like hateful, bible-beating dopes (ref: Todd Akin).

“President Obama’s vote share of 63% in New York was the 4th highest
nationwide, behind the liberal small state triumvirate of Hawaii,
Vermont and Rhode Island. But significantly, Obama’s vote share in New
York was greater than in any other large blue state, including
Massachusetts (60%), California (59%), Connecticut (58%), New Jersey
(58%) and Illinois (57%),” Cox says in the memo.

“President Obama’s strong performance hurt our down-ballot candidates.
Two of our incumbent Congresswomen were defeated, and two congressional
challengers lost very close races.”

But after laying out the
blame, Cox explains how to move forward, which includes establishing
better coalitions with minority groups — specifically Hispanics.

message can resonate in these communities,” Cox says. “In 2004, George
W. Bush won 45% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney won only

But Republicans blew their chances with Hispanics well before the 2012 election.

2001, the bi-partisan DREAM Act was introduced into Congress by
senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. If you’re unfamiliar with the
bill, it provided Hispanic kids a pathway to citizenship through
education of military service. Basically, if you’re a good kid who gives
back to the community (read: the kinds of people we want to keep here),
but you’re an illegal immigrant — in most cases by no fault of your
own — you can work your way to citizenship.

But right-wing border bullies blocked the bill — and continued to block the bill for the next 10 years.

are the largest emerging voting bloc in the entire country. So it only
seems logical — if for nothing other than self-preservation — that a
political party might want to embrace Latinos and go out of its way to
reach a reasonable compromise to the broken immigration system.

DREAM Act is about as reasonable a first step as it gets — it’s
designed to give kids, who in many cases were brought to America when
they were babies, a chance at citizenship. If nothing else, it’s an
incentive program to persuade immigrant kids to become successful. As it
stands, an illegal immigrant can achieve a PhD, but still be forced to
go back to a country they barely know. In other words, why bother
working hard when at any point you can get booted across the border.

Republicans pissed away their opportunity to win over Hispanics by
repeatedly voting down the DREAM Act — and now they’re gonna have to
pay for it with four more years of Obama.

Kudos to the GOP for
finally recognizing that Hispanic voters exist — it only took the
crushing blow of Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the GOP, it might be
too late.

See Cox’s full memo below.

MEMO: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

FROM: The New York Republican State Committee

DATE: November 9, 2012

While Tuesday’s results were disappointing, New York Republicans did win some key
elections, including defeating an incumbent Democratic Congresswoman in western
New York and winning the Supervisor of Brookhaven in Suffolk County.   We will continue
growing our party from the ground up in local elections in 2013 as we look forward
to a successful midterm election cycle in 2014.

Election Night 2012

New York is a deep blue state: President Obama’s vote share of 63% in New York was
the 4th highest nationwide, behind the liberal small state triumvirate of Hawaii,
Vermont and Rhode Island.   But significantly, Obama’s vote share in New York was
greater than in any other large blue state, including Massachusetts (60%), California
(59%), Connecticut (58%), New Jersey (58%) and Illinois (57%),

President Obama’s strong performance hurt our down-ballot candidates. Two of our
 incumbent Congresswomen were defeated, and two congressional challengers lost very
close races.

But there was some good news out of our House races: five of our Republican incumbents,
Reps. Peter King, Michael Grimm, Chris Gibson, Richard Hanna and Tom Reed, are returning
to Congress. And Republican Chris Collins defeated a strong Democrat incumbent to
give us a congressional pickup.

Control of the New York State Senate will be decided over the coming weeks. We expect
to keep our majority and will continue to be a major fiscally responsible voice
in the governance of New York State. Once again, of the ten most Democratic states
in America, only one of their twenty state legislative houses is in Republican hands:
the New York State Senate. By contrast, California just elected a two-thirds Democratic
majority in both its houses, as California continues its profligate tax and spend

Before the 2010 elections, we held only two congressional seats and had no majority
in the state legislature. We now hold six congressional seats and potentially a
continuing majority in the State Senate, as well as significant additional local

2013 and Beyond

As we did after the 2008 elections, we will continue to build the party from the
 bottom up.

As the Newsday headline read, “Obama wins nationally, Republicans win locally.”

Among our many local victories, Republicans Debbie Preston, Sandy Schepp, Ed Romaine
and Stefan Mychajliw won highly competitive races for Broome County Executive, Onondaga
County Clerk, Brookhaven Town Supervisor and Erie County Comptroller, respectively.
Each of these victories occurred in counties carried by President Obama.

Even though 2013 will be considered an “off year” election by the pundits, a number
of important elections will be taking place in New York State, including the New
 York City Mayoralty and County Executive races in key counties, including Rockland,
Westchester and Nassau.

We can then look forward to a great cycle in 2014, as the President’s party historically
fairs poorly in the midterm elections of a second term.

Furthermore, Obama’s slim win and, as even Bob Woodward recently noted, his weak
 history of leadership in the context of our ongoing economic crisis, could set
up an extraordinary midterm election for the party not in the White House. And with
20 Democratic Senators up for reelection in 2014 compared to only 13 Republicans,
Republicans will be in an especially strong position to retake the United States

Working with National Leaders

The New York Republican State Committee has developed excellent working relationships
with all the national committees, their leaders and staff, including the RNC, Boehner
Trust, NRCC, NRSC, RGA and RSLC.

Over the last election cycle, Speaker Boehner came to New York seven times and campaigned
with Chairman Cox in nine congressional districts. The Speaker’s office conceived,
and together with the State Party, financed and implemented our victory programs,
which provided the margin of victory in not only some of our congressional races,
but also in many of our down ballot races.  Through our 13 Victory Centers that
reached every corner of the state, over 1,500 volunteers made 1.46 million phone
 calls and knocked on over 84,000 doors. Nearly 6 million pieces of mail were distributed
in support of our Congressional candidates.

Coalitions Building

The State Party has established coalitions in a number of communities, including
 the Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Indian and young professionals communities.

Under the purview of our Coalitions Director, these networks, in close consultation
with the State Party, direct outreach, communication, and organization of Republicans
within their respective communities on a statewide basis.

Our message can resonate in these communities: in 2004, George W. Bush won 45% of
the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney won only 27%.

As a national center for many ethnic groups, New York has been ahead of the game:
our networking and outreach success here can be a model for other Republican organizations
in the future.


While Tuesday’s results were disappointing, New York Republicans can look forward
to successful election cycles in 2013 and 2014.

We will continue to grow the party by working with party leaders nationally and
expanding our network of coalitions here in New York.

The Republican Party in New York will continue to be a growing force for personal
and economic freedom, job growth, lower taxes, less spending, limited government,
local control and a strong national defense.


Where to Watch Election Results in NYC

Today’s politically charged special at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn

Whether you vote Red, Blue, Black, Tea, Green, or some rainbow-unicorn color, the best part of Election Day is watching the results. The excitement and anxiety is best felt with fellow voters in a crowded space, with punny-named drinks, and a giant screen flashing numbers. Try one of these.

If you can’t stomach the results without some snacks:
Piquant: The Prospect Heights bar turns happy hour into happy six hours and will run drink specials from 4 to 6 p.m. Get $3 drafts, seafood tacos, and the next POTUS. 259 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

The Bell House: Join Liam McEneaney and DJ Mike Doughty for an election-viewing party. CNN is promised to be on at this Gowanus bar, and anxious voters can dine on fare from Korilla BBQ truck that will be parked outside, and sip on cocktails like the Coke and Rumney and the Bahamobama Mama. 149 7th Street, Brooklyn

Fontana’s: SuperVegan is throwing a party at this Lower East Side spot with vegan treats from Chickpea & Olive and Dun-Well Doughnuts. 105 Eldridge Street

If you’re coming straight from work:
Carmine’s: Drink Obama- and Romney-themed $12 cocktails at the midtown Italian restaurant while you watch the results on large flat screens. We recommend the Tea Party: hard apple cider mixed with wild tea vodka. 200 West 44th Street

Ace Hotel Liberty Hall: Drink specialty cocktails and watch the results at the boutique hotel. Bonus: Maybe you can beat the cold by wrapping yourself in one of the animal-skin couch adornments. 20 West 29th Street

Sky Room: Watch the election while taking in 360 views of Manhattan. Aside from having Red and Blue drink specials, we hear there will be free chocolates. 330 West 40th Street, 33rd Floor

If you want to help Sandy relief tonight:
Hopeland: Starting at 5 p.m., grab presidential-themed cocktails and discounted drinks, while helping Sandy victims at the same time. Fifteen percent of all sales from the bar area will go to the Red Hook Initiative for Sandy relief. A great reason to drink up. 320 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Galapagos Art Space: Five feet of water won’t keep this DUMBO venue from partying tonight. Join them for an election night reopening with drink specials. 16 Main Street, Brooklyn

If you want a little room to stretch your arms and celebrate:
Projective Space: For a $5 suggested donation, watchers can start the night off with a Scotch whiskey tasting and coverage through a projector. Drinking games are promised, and this Lower East Side party will continue until midnight. 72 Allen Street

Brooklyn Winery: $10 off bottles and carafes of house wine will make watching the election here divine. 213 North 8th Street, Brooklyn


Will Ferrell Will Eat Garbage and Human Hair If You Vote

In case you’re on the fence about heading to the polls tomorrow, Will Ferrell is offering a home-cooked meal for your vote. The comedian released his latest Obama endorsement video yesterday and explains to viewers that he’s willing to do just about anything in the name of the POTUS. What exactly does that entail? Ferrell says he’ll “eat garbage, hair, human toenails, underpants . . .”


No Matter What We Do, the Election Has to Leak Into Hurricane Sandy

Serious conviction: Most of New York’s media folk are stuck indoors, looking for something to write about to fill blogs with content. Guilty as charged myself. However, while social media collapses with updates of Sandy’s destruction, there have been flares of America’s severe electoral illness. Symptoms include: taking any event and asking “What does this mean for the election?”

Given, the election is a week away (yeah . . . we know) so it’s only natural that we think of the near future. But there’s something to be said about the election leaking into a national crisis or the act of politicizing the wrath of Mother Nature — we reported on a similar all-political-everything matter involving Romney and hurricanes a few months back, when he told a woman to “Call 2-1-1” if the going gets rough. There’s also something to be said when we’re talking more about the implications for the election than its possible correlation to, uhm, global warming.
Here’s a couple of ‘Sandy’s impact’ narratives that I’ve come across on the Interwebs: 1) Romney pledged to cut FEMA (and then re-pledged), which will come back to bite him in the ass now; 2) studies of incumbent presidents losing elections when it’s shitty out; 3) studies of voter backlash on presidents during weather-related crises; 4) voters will think Obama is more “presidential” signing emergency declarations for Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and 5) a combination of previous points with additional “What about the children?”-like questions.
Also, here’s the sad truth for bloggers: The storm will not affect the election.
Easy explanation for that: Dealing with the storm has nothing to do with creating jobs. Do we honestly think the unemployed worker cares about FEMA funding at this point? The economy spelled backwards is not Hurricane Sandy, and, no matter the realities at hand, that is what this election is all about. And the media should know that better than anyone.
However, the media can’t be blamed for all of this (we’re nice when you get to know us, we swear). Finding or looking for the meaning in everything is the human condition in the age of infinite media; with so many outlets screaming at once, an association bursts into a variability of way too many possibilities. In other words, the connection between Election 2012 and Sandy will naturally spur hundreds of different headlines. Once we realize it’s our own collective flaw, we can give ourselves advice.
Like this: Guys, there’s a serious event that lived up to the overhype we diagnosed it with. We’ll deal with the election later. Romney and Obama will be just fine. For now, let’s watch out for one another. Deal?

7-Eleven Predicts President Obama Will Defeat Mitt Romney

It may be utterly unscientific, but it hasn’t been wrong yet. 7-Eleven’s “7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll” invites customers to vote by selecting specially marked coffee cups. Blue cups are for President Barack Obama and red ones are for former Governor Mitt Romney.

Obama is currently in the lead at 60% and Romney is trailing behind at 40%. You can even check out the results online by states and yes, as of now, Obama is winning by a huge margin in New York City. The convenience store is also offering regular “nonpartisan” for undecided customers.

Since the cup voting poll began in 2000, they’ve never been wrong. In fact, they’ve always been quite spot on:


Hispanic Business Community Fuming Over Christine Quinn’s Support of New Bill

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s support of a revised law aimed at helping women and minority-owned businesses secure contracts with city agencies could cost her Hispanic votes in the upcoming 2013 mayoral election.

“[Christine] Quinn is going to lose the Hispanic vote because we’re going to make sure of that,” Frank Garcia, chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, tells the Voice. “We don’t feel that [she] takes the Hispanic vote very seriously right now.”

Garcia and other Hispanic business leaders are upset over proposed revisions to the 2005 Local Law 129. The City Council Committee on Contracts held a hearing on the revisions yesterday — at which Deputy Mayor of Operations Cas Halloway announced that the city’s current goal to contract with Hispanic-owned construction companies would decrease from 9.06 percent to 4 percent under the new bill.


The law, which established the Minority and Women-owned Business
Enterprise, sets contracting goals for African-American, Asian-American,
Hispanic-American and Caucasian female business owners in the areas of
construction, goods, professional and standardized services. The M/WBE
program was established to address disparities in the number of women
and minorities contracted to do work for city agencies, but it has
failed to achieve that goal.

The newly revised percentage goals are based on the number of firms
certified to contract with city agencies and the number of those
certified agencies which are actually selected to do work.

Garcia says a number of Latino business owners were discouraged by
the certification process. That’s because they were the only minority
group required to prove their heritage, by way of affidavit, in order to
make their businesses eligible for contracting.

Although African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans saw increases in
other areas of contracting, they were confused as to why their
projections went down in construction, while the goal for Caucasian
women increased so dramatically.

“They’re doing more business than all of us right now, without [the]
percentages. If you look at the numbers of white women, right now
they’re doing more business than us,” Garcia says.

Caucasian women had no goals in construction under the guidelines of
this program in 2005, now they have an 18 percent procurement goal.
Garcia believes the administration and Quinn gave them a higher
percentage because of lobbying and moneyed interests. He says that he
will only steer his constituents towards mayoral hopefuls who wlll fight
in the interest of the Hispanic community.

“Are they going to defend us on this, or are they going to sellout
like Christie Quinn did?” Garcia says. “We feel that the mayor, on this
issue and other issues of small business, has not been fair [to] our
community, [to] the Latino community.”

During the hearing, Councilwoman Inez Dickens brought up the issue of
fraud and whether some contracts, intended for women, might actually go
to white-male business-owners instead.

“I come from a small business background, and I can think of any
number of businesses that are Caucasian-owned, by men, and they put
their wives, their girlfriends, their daughter, whatever, up as the
owners, and so maybe you should consider a time-frame where there’s been
a change in ownership, principal ownership,” Dickens told Calloway.

With all that said, the debate over percentages may not really mean much ultimately.

“They’re really not goals, it’s just aspirational. We are also under
the jurisdiction or mandate by state law to always go with the lowest
responsible bidder,” Councilwoman Letitia James said. “So, though we
create aspirational goals, the fact is that if it’s the lowest
responsible bidder, and that lowest responsible bidder happens not to be
a member of a minority group, then that contract will go to that

James was referring to a state law that mandates that government
contracts be awarded on the basis of whoever has the best and lowest
bid, regardless of race.

Another reason why these goals may just be “aspirational” is that
there’s no real penalty for city agencies and contractors who fail to
meet percentage goals.

In 2011, city agencies met less than half of the programs goals.
M/WBEs made roughly $73 million of the targeted $153 million total sum
in contract earnings. In 2010, they made only about $70 million of the
nearly $313 million goal.

“If they’re not making a good-faith effort and demonstrating how or
why they’re not meeting goals, they’re going to have to explain
themselves,” Halloway said. “That’s going to factor into whether they
are in fact a contractor the city wants to do business with.”

Under revised accountability plans for the law, agencies and
contractors would have to meet on a quarterly basis to justify their
numbers — in a program modeled to emulate the NYPD’s CompStat program.
Despite several other useful revisions to its accountability system, the
fact remains that the contractors will not face fines or sanctions if
they fail to meet goals under this legislation.

Garcia says he and his coalition plans to bite back at the city.

“I’m in process of suing the city of New York because of the soda
bill with other advocates. The lawsuit hits next week. And, the reason
why we decided to be part of the lawsuit is our presidents are angry —
saying ‘okay if the mayor is going to hit us on percentages on
Hispanics, we’re going to hit him on the soda bill because this does
affect the small restaurants in our membership,” Garcia says.

They’re planning a press conference Wednesday at City Hall to further voice their displeasure.


It Looks Like Charles Rangel Won This One, Guys

Finally, it’s over.

When we started reporting on the Rangel/Espaillat primary race last week, the challenger to the Harlem Congressman’s throne was ready to take the vote count to court. The race was close but it wasn’t that close; the State Senator Adriano Espaillat was contesting 2,110 votes, of which he had to snag 60 percent or so to actually claim victory over Charles Rangel, the 21-term Representative. As the recount continued, it was evident that the Congressman’s lead was growing and Espaillat’s attempt had backfired.
But, as of this morning, it is safe to say that United States Rep. Charles Rangel will return to Congress on his 22nd term since there is no registered Republican challenger in the general election this November. According to a Board of Election spokesperson, after the recount, the votes were tallied up; Rangel received 18,940 votes while Espaillat, just off by 990 votes (which, we admit, is actually a close race, using Bush v. Gore as our go-to example), received 17,950 votes.
Good thing November, as of Friday, is only four months away.

Now, for this all to officially end, the Board’s commission must verify the results – a process that will likely happen by this Tuesday. With the injunction and legal matters to still attend to, the two contesters are to meet in court this Wednesday to finalize the whole election. This is a necessary deadline for Espaillat, who must declare his candidacy for the State Senate by Thursday.

Technically, Espaillat could still argue the results and drag this one out a bit longer. But, with that State Senate re-election in mind, he must decide if he wants to continue down that path or just give up and call it a day. Does he want to dedicate his time to a seat in Albany that he will probably grab again or the 990 vote margin against a Congressman who was just recently found guilty of 11 ethics violations? Not going to lie: that’s a tough decision.
But, for our own horse-race reporting sake, we kind of hope he chooses the latter.

The Rangel/Espaillat Race Might Be Much Closer Then We Think

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Congressman Charlie Rangel had the primary election in the bag. Against eleven counts of ethics violations, voters once again handed one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus a victory, sealing up his 22nd term as a member of the House of Representatives. His opponent was State Senator Adriano Espaillat, a public figure looking to become the first Dominican-American on the Hill.

However, soon after the initial reports were in, it was revealed that a vast number of ballots had not been counted by the Board of Elections, leading Espaillat to call out the Rangel campaign (in front of his own office!) for calling the race way too soon.

So, the BOE did a recount and it turns out that this one is going to come down to the wire: with the new numbers in, Rangel has 44.29% of the votes cast (18,075 in total) while Espaillat has 42.33% (17,243 votes in total). That means that the latter is trailing the former by only 802 votes and there are still 2,110 paper ballots left.

In other words, this is going to be a close one.

Now, even with those 2,110 uncounted ballots in mind, Espaillat still needs to own the recount with at least 69 percent of the votes favoring him. Also, there are a bunch of absentee ballots that are still streaming into the BOE’s offices. His supporters have argued that the ballots are coming from Espaillat-favored neighborhoods but, even so, it will be very difficult for him to pull this one away from Rangel.

With this pressure in mind, Espaillat’s offices’ legal teams are fighting to make the recount process much more transparent. On Thursday, an injunction was filed with the State Supreme Court and the challenger will have a hearing tomorrow. According to the Wall Street Journal, 6% of precincts have still not been counted and Espaillat is arguing that this constitutes about 70 districts’ votes.

The numbers will continue to come out this following week. The Voice will keep you updated on the dead-heat.