While some of the more cynical bent are convinced this whole Mike Hein to Albany business, plotted in deepest secrecy over weeks, if not months, is a done deal, neatly wrapped with all the players in place, others see a unique opportunity. There is flux in the air.
Once the general shock of Hein’s announcement that he was going to Albany as a Temporary Disabilities office director wore off, new players and plotters emerged. Why, some reasoned, should we just hand this once-in-a-decade opportunity over to a bunch of palace guards? Good question.
Our last piece offered a brief listing of some potential players. Let’s vet some more.
Unless the original inside players – Hein and the governor – have an absolute lock on this, and there is nothing absolute in politics. there will be challengers.
Before going afield, let us not forget that Hein needs to be confirmed by a Democratically-controlled state senate before he will officially resign as county executive. Democrats hold a solid 40-23 majority, but eight of those members are newly-elected progressives. Thirty-two votes are necessary to confirm gubernatorial appointments. Will these eight progressives (Rosendale Senator Jen Metzger will probably sponsor Hein), rubberstamp a nominee with former Republican Hein’s record of reducing government and holding the line on taxes, virtues more commonly associated with hated Republican-conservatives who only a few weeks ago ruled the senate? Does Cuomo have the juice to influence that block and will he expend precious political capital on a county executive from a river county of minimal influence?
Meanwhile, it will be a short sprint to a critical decision, which is to say a special election sometime in April or May.
Under county charter, Hein has designated his uber-loyal chief of staff Adele Reiter as his successor, pending a special election. Reiter has not revealed whether she will run for a full four-year term in November. If not, Hein by law can designate somebody else. If so, she will not only serve as the most trusted chief protector of the Hein legacy, but as an odds-on favorite in November.
But will the rest of the field be satisfied with a view from the sidelines while an extension of the Hein administration gets spoon-fed to the public for at least another four years? Maybe not.
As NFL football games played out over the weekend, Democrats were working phones and the web for intel. Former congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes of Kerhonkson, with close connections to the Cuomo administration as a former PR flak for the governor, is not to be underestimated. Pat Ryan of Gardner raised over a million dollars in the congressional primary. Surely (don’t call him Shirley!), he’s circling back on supporters with deep pockets.
Power-hungry county legislators Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz and Dave Donaldson of Kingston, no doubt consider themselves executive timber, but have been rather busy of late with legislative leadership politics.
Frequent critic Comptroller Elliott Auerbach would be Hein’s worst nightmare as a successor, but as such may be attractive to that not inconsequential cadre of Hein detractors. Might a fusion ticket be in the works? The rest will be running as the second coming of Mike Hein.
Republicans can only hope that deep dissension in Democratic ranks will give their candidate an outside chance in that race to the wire.
Hein will maintain a close watch on this proceeding; it’s his legacy.