Welcome to Politics Bites, where every day at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, the newly elected New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, talked about how he won the "people's vote" on Election Day.
Thomas DiNapoli is keeping his seat as NYS Comptroller, and he won the right by the skin of his teeth. Many pundits believed his opponent, Wall Street banker Harry Wilson, would get the privilege of managing the state's pension fund and auditing state agencies for the next four years. Indeed, the vote was very close, and DiNapoli pulled through despite Harry Wilson having big name endorsements and deeper pockets.
Speaking on The Brian Lehrer Show, DiNapoli said it was old fashioned grassroots organizing that propelled him to victory. He gave shout-outs to the Working Families Party and the labor movement. He said the support from the unions is in no way a conflict of interest, and that they supported him because they have an interest in the right person being in charge of the public employee pension fund.
My opponent talked about eliminating a defined benefit pension plan and advocating for a 401K system, which from my point of view has created so much economic insecurity for working people in this country. I was a strong defender of the defined benefit plan, and I suspect that might have had something to do with their interest in the race.
Notably, DiNapoli did not get governor-elect Andrew Cuomo's endorsement, but the comptroller said he took the long view.
There's always an institutional tension between the Comptroller and the executive, and for that matter, the Comptroller and the legislature. That's what this job is about: not to be the governor's Comptroller, but to be the people's Comptroller. I've done that. I'm very humbled and honored that the people have recognized that and voted for me in a very tough election climate. My obligation is to New Yorkers. Not to a governor, not to my party, not to anybody else.
Lastly, Brian Lehrer finally convinced DiNapoli to say "I'm going to take Comptroll of Albany!" Look out for his tweet tonight, but we're still holding out for the line in DiNapoli's inaugural speech. Update: He tweeted!