Politico NY’s Jimmy Vielkind On Impact Of Schneiderman’s Resignation On State And National Politics

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – WSKG’s Gabe Altieri’s conversation with Politico New York’s Albany Bureau Chief Jimmy Vielkind about the impact New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s resignation has on state and national politics.

[Transcript]

GABE ALTIERI: You’re listening to Morning Edition from NPR and WSKG, I’m Gabe Altieri.

Now that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned, we’re going to take a look at the political impact both in New York and at a national level.

Eric Scheiderman stepped down as attorney general on Monday amid abuse allegations.

To catch you up, on Monday, the New Yorker published the claims of four women who accuse Schneiderman of physically and emotionally abusing them. They say he -quote- repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent. -quote-

Schneiderman says it was role play and consensual sexual activities, but that the allegations would prevent him from doing his job as Attorney General.

Jimmy Vielkind is the Albany Bureau Chief for Politico New York and joins us now. Jimmy, how is Albany reacting to all this?

JIMMY VIELKIND: People here in Albany are still in shock. They’re still trying to process it. And we’re embarking on what I expect is going to be a two-tiered process.

First, members of the state legislature are expected to convene and name a sucessor for Schneiderman, as is their duty under state law.

And two, we’re just at the start of the formal political calendar. Both Democrats and Republicans are having their formal party conventions in two weeks downstate.

There will be lots of discussion about this, there will be candidates who come forward and what was looking like it would  be a sleepy reelection campaign for Schneiderman is now going to be a very hot race, full of interested parties on both sides, particularly on the Democratic side.

GA: Yeah, I want to get into those possible successors in just a second. But first, careerwise, where was Schneiderman headed? Whatever those dreams were, I assume that they’re gone now.

JV: Yes, everyone assumes that Schneiderman’s future political career is toast and I’m one of those people. But previously, he was thought of as one of the more progressive statewide elected officials in the state.

He was making a name for himself among national attorney’s general as a member of the Trump resistence, sued the president on dozens of occasions.

And he was thought of as having something of a rising star both in state and national political circles. I spoke with a few people who said they they thought he might be positioned to run for governor a little bit down the road.

So this was clearly someone who’s star had not yet crested, many political operatives and sources say. And now it’s been completely snuffed out.

GA: And, like you said, part of that star is Schneiderman being a leading Democratic force against President Trump on environmental issues, on immigration, on net neutrality. What does his resignation mean for those efforts at least for the next several months up until the election?

JV: It remains to be seen. We believe that whoever takes over the office will continue that work, but whether they will be as vigorous a spokesperson as Schneiderman was for those efforts and commenting on national and political affairs is somewhat up in the air.

And now to that election, was there any question about how the attorney general’s race would go for Schneiderman before all of this broke?

JV: Well he was a heavy favorite he had about $8.5 million in his political campaign account and the only declared Republican challenger as of Monday was Manny Alicandro, a lawyer from New York City who had worked for several Wall Street firms.

Now Republicans are talking about turning back to their 2014 candidate for attorney general, John Cahill, a long time aide to Governor George Pataki. So I think the Republicans are going to reexamine this seat as well now that it’s not filled by an incumbent. 

But no, everyone expected that this would not be a particularly difficult reelection for Schneiderman in the general election and he had no announced Democratic primary challengers either.

So as I said what was shaping up to be a sleepy stroll to reelection is now going to be one of the hottest races in New York [State]  with deep, deep, deep impacts on races for congress, the senate and perhaps the governor.

GA: And for that Democratic side, what are some the names your hearing. What are some of the names you’re hearing? Who could run? Is there a list out there?

JV: Zephyr Teachout, who ran for congress and who challenged Governor Cuomo in a 2014 primary put her name out there. We’ve heard Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse express some interest.

State Senator Mike Gianaris of Queens had formed a campaign committee and had previously explored a run. Congresswoman Kathleen Rice from Long Island sought the Attorney General’s post in 2010.

Other state lawmakers including Assemblymembers Danny O’Donnell, Jeff Dinowitz, Aravella Simotas have all been floated and considered. State Senators Todd Kaminsky and Brad Hoylman have also been somewhat in the mix.

New York City public advocate Letitia James has been thought of very quickly as a possible candidate from outside the state legislature. But I know that I’m missing some people and we’re going to have to see in the coming days exactly  how this all shakes out.

GA: Jimmy Vielkind is the Albany Bureau Chief for Politico New York. Jimmy, thanks again.

JV: Thanks so much for having me.

GA: This is WSKG.

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