January 30, 2015

Might Assemblywoman Lifton be vulnerable to a 2016 primary?

Ten days ago, my answer to that was no. Today...

A week after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest for multiple federal felony corruption charges, 23 Democratic Assembly members did something unprecedented in recent memory. They formed a reform caucus, and asked new candidates for Speaker basic questions about the structure of the Assembly to come:

For example, should Members know how decisions are made inside of conference? ....

Should staff allocation information be distributed openly?

How can members have a greater opportunity to weigh in on policy and budget decisions before legislative negotiations?

How can we encourage a real and robust debate in committee meetings and on the floor?

Should Members have the ability to get bills voted on in committee and on the floor if there is broad support among colleagues?

Barbara Lifton's name is not on the letter. Perhaps she will sign on later?

Lifton's district, though, pretty much screamed reform in September, when Zephyr Teachout thrashed Governor Cuomo 3464-1415 in Tompkins County, the bulk of her district, and 444-304 in Cortland County, of which Lifton represent a part.

To put it another way, Teachout got more votes in a Governor's race with low turnout than Lifton got in Tompkins County in the 2002 primary that began her legislative career: 3340. Lifton's total for both counties is higher, but I don't have town data to compare for Cortland. However, her margins in Cortland County have been reliably lower than those in Tompkins County, and numbers this close are not comforting in any event.

The other complicating factor is that Sheldon Silver's campaign committees stood as a bastion against reform challengers, able to send out money to help those Silver thought would help him. It's not clear what will happen to those committees and their funds at this point.

State Democratic primaries haven't brought a lot of voters to the polls for a long time. Perhaps, given real choices, they might again someday.

Perhaps this will all be forgotten by 2016. Or perhaps it won't.

Update: More on the reform caucus here, and we may get to have similar conversations about Senate Republicans soon.

Posted by simon at January 30, 2015 7:55 AM in
Note on photos