A powerful election lawyer is suddenly contemplating a political comeback.
Marty Connor, an ex-Brooklyn state senator who was defeated nine years ago, is now considering running for the seat he once held, sources tell Gothamist. Connor would potentially replace Daniel Squadron, the man who defeated him in that acrimonious Democratic primary.
Squadron stunned the local political world earlier this month when he announced he was resigning from office to join a national effort to elect more Democrats to local office. Since Squadron said he was not seeking re-election after the petitioning process ended, there will be no open primary to replace him. Instead, a special election will be held in the overwhelmingly Democratic district this November.
The Democratic nominee, virtually assured victory, will be picked by a combination of Brooklyn and Manhattan county committee members in a district that spans lower Manhattan, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and brownstone Brooklyn. Though Connor and Squadron are both from Brooklyn, more than half of the county committee members are based in Manhattan, giving the borough an edge in the backroom process. Keith Wright, the chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Party and an employee of a major lobbying firm, is expected to play a more serious role; Frank Seddio, the Brooklyn chairman, will have a say but less leverage.
Connor is not pitching himself as a permanent replacement. He has told Democrats he would be a "placeholder" senator until the end of the term in 2018. A former minority leader of the Senate, Connor served from 1978 until 2008 and now has a lucrative election law practice. He is also currently doing election law work for a Manhattan district leader aligned with Wright, which could be one way to curry favor with the county leader
Since neither party boss has complete control over the process—there are many factions among county committee members in both boroughs—the scramble behind the scenes is already very contentious.
Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Squadron's preferred candidate, is backed by the Working Families Party. Another progressive less aligned with establishment forces, Manhattan district leader Paul Newell, commands loyalty among a number of county committee members who could swing the election in his favor. Lincoln Restler, a de Blasio aide and former Brooklyn district leader, is now lobbying aggressively for the nomination, along with David Yassky, a former Brooklyn councilman and commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission who is currently dean of Pace University's law school.
One source cautioned that the odds are still against Connor actually becoming the nominee, though he could emerge as a compromise candidate in the short-term if an arrangement can't be worked out to satisfy both boroughs.
But a Connor compromise, for those aligned with Squadron and Kavanagh, may be no compromise at all. The WFP helped drive Connor out of office in 2008 when they strongly backed Squadron, and Connor's return could foil their hopes of landing Kavanagh, their chosen candidate, in the Senate.
How viable Connor would be remains to be seen. Manhattan county committee members could balk at picking a Brooklynite. More importantly, as anger builds against the Independent Democratic Conference—a group of eight breakaway Democrats in a long-running alliance with Republicans in the State Senate—Connor's role as a well-paid lawyer for the IDC could become a source of contention.
Connor couldn't be reached for comment