Published in
The Empire

NY Dems Pick New State Party Co-Chairs

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright have been asked by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as the co-chairs of the state Democratic Party.

Cuomo's request comes days after the current party leader, Jay Jacobs--a Paterson appointee--announced he was stepping down.

“Mayor Miner and Assemblyman Wright are outstanding leaders both for our party and our state," Cuomo said in a statement. "They have been dedicated community leaders and champions of the key missions of the Democratic Party.”

"They are tireless, experienced public officials and active Democrats who have served their local communities and the state with distinction," Jacobs said of Myers and Wright in a statement. "They will bring the same energy to this new role, supporting Governor Cuomo’s plan for the future of our great State and building our Democratic Party.

"I expect to turn the Chairman’s gavel over to both of them with full confidence that they will continue the good work we have done over the last few years supporting our elected leaders and candidates at all levels of government in the State."

The state's other two most senior Democrats--Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senator Charles Schumer--both also weighed in with supportive statements. Schumer called Miner and Wright "a fantastic one-two combo for the Democratic Party of New York" and Silver called them "outstanding public servants who have unparalleled track records in representing their constituents".

State of Politic's Liz Benjamin provides some background on the appointments:

At first blush, this makes a lot of sense, since it enables Cuomo to cover two a number of key bases – upstate, downstate, African Americans, women, the Assembly Democrats.

Both Wright and Miner have long been loyal supporters of the governor, though there are a few complications.

For example, he’s also the Manhattan Democratic chairman and is widely known to harbor designs on Rep. Charlie Rangel’s seat, though he is not among the Democrats currently primarying the veteran Harlem congressman.

Miner’s city is in dire financial straits – so much so that she asked former LG Richard Ravitch to come in and lend a hand in hopes of righting the fiscal picture.

The mayor has also been critical – although not nearly as vociferously as some – of the governor for pushing through the 2 percent property tax cap without coinciding mandate relief, and has even warned that Syracuse could go bankrupt without significant assistance and/or changes from Albany.

Also, the dual chair thing hasn’t worked so well in the past. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer tried the upstate-downstate thing with Dave Pollak and June O’Neill. Pollak was forced out shortly after David Paterson took over for Spitzer, and O’Neill followed not long after that. (She’s also no longer a state committeewoman).

Paterson then selected Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic chairman, to run the state party, which wasn’t a choice Cuomo agreed with. And now, as has long been expected, the governor has moved to solidify his control over the party by picking his own people to run it.