Primary resulted in no comebacks, some upsets

Spitzer Center for American Progress/Flickr
September 12, 2013

Primary night was not kind to politicians seeking political comebacks,  and it also offered a few upset surprises.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner failed by a huge margin to make a political comeback in the New York City Mayor’s race , trailing far behind  winner Bill DeBlasio and second place finisher William Thompson.  Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer also was defeated in his attempt to get elected to a lesser seat- that of New York City Comptroller.

But Steve Greenberg, a political analyst and spokesman for Siena College polling, says Spitzer, unlike Weiner, is more likely to get a second chance for a come back in the future, if he wants to. Spitzer, who resigned the governorship in 2008 over a prostitution scandal,  received 48% of the vote to winner Scott Stringer’s 52%. Weiner, whose sexting scandal continued to plague him during the campaign,  got less than 5% of the primary vote.

“Anthony Weiner hurt himself in this campaign,” said Greenberg, who says Spitzer’s much stronger showing and scandal free comeback campaign helped him “somewhat” with voters.

Two State Assemblymen who have been accused of sexual harassment, Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner, also lost their bids for City Council seats. Lopez has already resigned from the Assembly, after paying part of a $130,000 settlement with two alleged victims. Kellner still faces a state ethics commission probe.

Upstate, incumbent Byron Brown won his primary in Buffalo, while frontrunner Kathy Sheehan was elected in the Democratic primary in Albany. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner beat back two challengers. The biggest surprise of the evening was in Rochester, says Greenberg, where underdog Lovely Warren beat incumbent Mayor Tom Richards.

“Clearly the Warren campaign did a far better job than the Richards campaign in getting their voters to the polls,” said Greenberg.

Even Siena’s own polls did not predict that Warren would win.

In many cases, a victory in the Democratic primary ensures a win in the general election. That means the major upstate cities will likely have three women mayors and two African American mayors, a big change from the recent past, where just one decade ago all four mayors were white men.