WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Political party bosses will now weigh their picks to fill the seat vacated by state Senator Carl Kruger, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to corruption charges and resigned from his post.
The selection of a potential successor is a closed-door process even to the rank-and-file members of the political parties who live in the district, according to Dick Dadey, executive director of the civic group Citizens Union.
"There are no party primaries," he said, "So the party members don't participate in the selection of the candidate, but rather the inside party committee members of about several dozen choose the nominee and that essentially means the party bosses."
Dadey said that without an incumbent, the south eastern Brooklyn district that includes Brighton Beach and Flatlands could be vulnerable to redistricting.
The names of former Councilman Simcha Felder, now with the city comptroller's office, and current Councilman Lou Fidler have surfaced as potential successors to Kruger, who has held the seat since 1994.
In phone interviews, neither Felder nor Fidler would go on the record about their plans. In a statement, Fidler said he would announce his future plans soon.
“Today is not that day as it would seem appropriate to let the events that have occurred resonate fully without political commentary," he said. "I do, however, promise to comment on and make my plans known in the very near future. Stay tuned."
The district is conservative and competitive by New York City standards and voted for Senator John McCain over President Barack Obama in 2008 by 5 percentage points.
In 2009, Kruger actually helped tip the balance of power in favor of Republican control of the upper house when he joined the so-called gang of four dissident Democrats that sided with the GOP.
Governor Andrew Cuomo must set a special election for the seat. Kruger’s term expires in January of 2013.
Kruger, 62, tearfully pled guilty on Tuesday to four federal corruption charges. The Brooklyn Democrat who represented Flatbush, Mill Basin and Coney Island since 1994, resigned his seat prior to his court appearance.
The plea agreement between federal prosecutors and Kruger contemplates a prison term anywhere from eight to 11 years. But Judge Jed Rakoff is not bound by the deal when he sentences Kruger on April 26.
Kruger’s co-conspirator Michael Turrano, a Manhattan based gynecologist, also pled guilty for his role in helping to launder the proceeds from Kruger’s bribery operation.
Three men charged along with Kruger are scheduled to go on trial early next year.
Federal prosecutors say lobbyist Richard Lipsky and former Parkway Hospital CEO Robert Aquino will be tried next month.
Health care consultant Solomon Kalish will be tried separately, in May.
With reporting from Annmarie Fertoli