Now that disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger has been forced to retire from a life of, ahem, public service since pleading guilty to corruption charges, the race is on to seize his south Brooklyn district. In one corner, you have Democratic City Councilmember Lewis A. Fidler, who has not officially declared his intention to campaign for the job—though a party insider says he's got enough support to get the nomination. In the other corner, you have local Republican leader David Storobin, who, the Times reports, is "at the top of a very short list" for the nomination. Who are these guys?
Fidler has been on the City Council since 2002; his district includes the neighborhoods of Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Sheepshead Bay. You may remember him from his opposition to the ban on smoking in city parks and beaches, his efforts to make the Buildings Department keep records of just how many freaking cell phone towers there are in this town (nobody seems to know!), and his vote against a bill encouraging rooftop greenhouses. (According to City Room, he said "homeowners in his Brooklyn district often submit applications for greenhouses but instead use the rooftop area to construct extra bedrooms or other non-glass-walled additions.")
On the day Kruger pleaded guilty, Fidler released a statement in response to media inquiries about his interest in Kruger's seat, saying, "It would seem appropriate to let the events that have occurred resonate fully without political commentary. I do, however, promise to comment on and make my plans known in the very near future." But the Times reports that his campaign is lit to pop, with over $300,000 at his disposal. And he's already run full-page ads in Orthodox Jewish newspapers, reminding readers about the city subsidies he scored for Jewish organizations.
Storobin, meanwhile, held a breakfast at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center on Wednesday to discuss the race. Community leaders and political figures in attendance included State Senator Dean Skelos (the state's top Republican), as well as State Senator Marty Golden. (Here's a photo from the breakfast, from Storobin's campaign Facebook page.) Storobin is a lawyer from Brighton Beach and a vice chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party, and he's been angling for the job since before Kruger pleaded guilty. He tells the Times, "If I were to run I would definitely win the district."
The race is seen to be more competitive than normal New York State Senate or Assembly races, and Republicans are emboldened by Bob Turner's win in the election for Anthony Weiner's vacated House seat. (Though some political analysts saw that win as largely a failure of the Queens Democratic machine.) Governor Cuomo is expected to call for a special election in March, and each party’s local leadership will choose a nominee for the election. The winner will serve only through 2012, after which all legislative seats are on the ballots and the decennial redistricting fun begins!