Published by
Azi Paybarah

Timing the Revolt

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Despite the “anti-incumbent” mood supposedly sweeping through the mid-term elections, there are surprisingly few incumbents in New York State facing serious electoral challenges.

Among the most glaring examples are Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Conference Leader John Sampson: They’re Democrats who each lead one half of the often-criticized “dysfunctional” state legislature. They’ve also both refused to sign the reform pledges advanced by the group led by former Mayor Ed Koch, who, in return, branded Silver, Sampson and other hold outs “enemies of reform.”

That seems like enough fodder for a challenger.

So, how did Silver, Sampson and other “enemies” avoid serious primary challenges?

In short: Since the state has no campaign finance mechanism, challengers would have had to start revving up their fund-raising and campaign operations months in advance, well before the anti-incumbent “mood” and fever pitch for reform swelled to it’s current levels.

Or, as Jerry Skurnik, a political consultant (and one-time Koch aide) put it to me, “By the time Koch started doing this stuff, it was too late.”