YNN's Capital Tonight: State of Politics Bill ‘Nice Guy’ Samuels for LG by Liz Benjamin
Bill Samuels formally kicked off his LG campaign this morning, pledging to fight in a Democratic primary battle against the running mate of presumptive gubernatorial contender, AG Andrew Cuomo, if necessary.
Samuels is running on a “five pillars of reform” platform (redistricting, member items, outside income etc. – the usual), but insists he’s not a protest candidate and is in the race to win. The one thing he won’t do, however, is fight dirty.
Samuels has hired Ben Kallos (that’s Mr. Open Legislation, to you) to do “research,” stressing that “research” does not mean “oppo,” which he finds “boring.” (Interestingly, Kallos last worked for Mark Green’s 2009 public advocate campaign, during which Green said he swore off oppo, too).
Samuels said he notified Cuomo and Gov. David Paterson that he intends to run for LG, but hasn’t spoken to either of them in detail about his plans. He insisted he will go to the convention next month – “I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, I’m running against the entire party,’” – but will petition he way onto the ballot if necessary.
“I’m sure Cuomo will pick someone who is good and that person will probably have a different definition of how the lieutenant governor can play a constructive roll,” Samuels said. “…And to have a debate on the sate Senate president will be healthy.”
(Samuels also plans on running for the Senate president job, which the LG traditionally holds, presiding over the chamber and breaking ties, if necessary – although there’s been some debate over when he can cast that vote).
You might remember Samuels from his short-lived Blue Tiger Democrats effort to impose some reform on the Senate Democrats when he was their finance chairman. He’s again employing the Tiger (from the old Tammany Hall days) as a mascot.
Samuels said he will self-finance his campaign, but didn’t provide any firm details about numbers. He also is launching an independent expenditure effort to raise money for “reform minded” candidates – likely just two this year, who will receive $250,000 each. He warned that figure will raise significantly in 2012 if reform isn’t proceeding apace.
Samuels went out of his way to praise Paterson’s appointed LG, Richard Ravitch, saying he believes the state will end up with GAPP budgeting because of Ravitch’s efforts. (Not, of course, if the governor continues to reject any of the borrowing that might come along with it, though).
There’s renewed interest in the LG position this year, given all that’s happened since the fall of Eliot Spitzer and his replacement by Paterson. The governor has admitted there wasnever any vetting process of him by the Spitzer campaign (a fact that Spitzer himself has neither addressed nor taken responsibility for).
It’s a safe bet that we’ll know something prior to the conventions about Cuomo’s LG pick. Sources familiar with the Cuomo camp’s doings tell me the topic is being discussed, but they’re playing things very close to the vest. Names flaoted to date include Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (which would drive Carl Paladino to distraction, no doubt) and Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy.
Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence is also running on the Democratic side.
On the GOP side, M. Meyers Mermel said last week he has reached the 25 percent threshold to get onto the ballot at the convention. Paladino met recently with former NYC County Leader Tom Ognibene, but the LG topic wasn’t broached, Ognibene told me.
Other names floated: Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (on both sides!), Orange County Ed Diana.