2:30 p.m. update: Five weeks away from primary day for City Council seats.
Is there a pulse out there? Any incumbents in serious trouble? What council incumbents and challengers are you helping? Who should go? Who should stay?
I’m waiting for word on what challengers qualify for the ballot. Challengers have until Wednesday at 4 p.m. to submit signatures to local election officials. One race clearly to watch is the 138th City Council District in the Upper East Side where Democratic incumbents Bob Curwen and Rich Paoletto are being challenged by retired firefighter Andy Fardy and Ann Barney, a 25-year employee of the Board of Education. Fardy and Barney have qualified for the ballot.
I expect that race to be close. Fardy (aka Town Committee) knows how to campaign be it on behalf of a candidate or in a Democratic Town Committee race. Education advocates tend to vote and Barney has the opportunity to bring her school system contacts to the table. And maybe throw in a little magic dust from her circus-performer hubby Joe.
Curwen and Paoletto, also seasoned campaigners, have been involved in their share of primaries. What gives these matchups an extra edge? The council candidates lead the ticket this cycle.
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, took out incumbent State Rep. Bob Keeley, the longest-serving legislator in the city’s history. Grogins proved that if you work your tail off, identify your voters and drag them to the polls you can produce an upset. Primaries are strange birds. Keeley had the power of incumbency working for him, years of making legislative district friends, the support of an eclectic group of pols from Town Chairman Mario Testa to maverick City Councilman Bob Troll Walsh pumping his candidacy. Auden took it to him, knocking on doors, banging phones and splicing together a piece of the party apparatus that included Mayor Bill Finch and former Democratic Town Chairman John Stafstrom, a cunning political operative.
I’m hearing that Keeley is plotting his comeback. Stay tuned.
It’s still to be determined how much the mayor will weigh in on behalf of Curwen and Paoletto. He certainly wants to save ally Paoletto. Finch and Curwen are lukewarm at best. But what happens if he ends up with Fardy and Barney heading into the second half of his mayoralty? Fardy especially will be a major toothache for the mayor.
This race also has personality dynamics. Fardy and Testa have had a strong relationship for years, but I’m sensing (for now) it’s not what it used to be. That can change. Testa and Curwen are allies. How much does Mario insert himself? Mario’s once-formidable absentee ballot operation isn’t what it used to be. Too many watchful eyes.
Council Challenge Update
I spoke to Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandi Ayala this afternoon and she provided an update on City Council challengers.
In the 137th District Maria Valle and Christina Ayala have qualified for the ballot to challenge endorsed candidates former City Councilwoman and State Rep. Lydia Martinez and Manny Ayala.
In the 135th District, challengers Peter Clarke and Mary McBride-Lee turned in their signatures. They are currently under review. OIB friend Isa Mujahid is also challenging incumbents Richard Bonney and Warren Blunt. He will submit his signatures on Wednesday.
In the 132nd District could Bob Troll Walsh have a primary? Joyce Guytan (anyone know Joyce?) has taken out petition sheets.
In the 133rd Lou Innacell has done the same. (Look out Tom McCarthy!) So has Mark Trojanowski in the 136th District challenging incumbents Angel DePara and Carlos Silva, as well as James Morton and Tyreke Bird in the 138th.