January 24, 2020 — Yonkers Times’ Editor Dan Murphy’s report on the contest to succeed retiring Congresswoman Nita Lowey [“Parker and Buchwald leading Dems to replace Lowey,” January 9th] failed to take note of the elephant in the room. That elephant is named David Carlucci, an incumbent State Senator who collaborated with Republicans in Albany to keep them in control of the New York State Senate for a decade. Carlucci is actually the front runner for the nomination to replace Lowey, in a district that includes all of his native Rockland County and a portion of Westchester.
State Senator Carlucci, mentioned only in passing at the end of Murphy’s article, currently represents nearly a third of the Congressional district (NY17) where he has won five consecutive elections, most recently surviving a 2018 primary challenge from a political newcomer who attacked his membership in the notorious Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), the group of six to eight Democrats who collaborated with Republicans to keep them in control of the State Senate.
To say that the battle for the nomination comes down to Catherine Parker, a Westchester County Legislator, and northern Westchester Assemblyman David Buchwald misses the point. Neither Parker nor Buchwald represent more than a few hundred voters in NY17. Parker doesn’t even live in the district! On the other hand, Carlucci received 12,000 votes in Rockland County in his 2018 campaign, and it is a safe bet that he brings those votes to the starting line in the 2020 Congressional primary campaign. Because of his base in the Rockland County portion of NY17, Carlucci has to be considered the frontrunner.
Adding to Carlucci’s advantage is the presence of nine other Democrats in the race. If these candidates split the Westchester County vote evenly, Carlucci wins. This would be a perverse outcome, since most Democratic activists in NY17 would certainly oppose Carlucci’s record of enabling Republicans to block the sort of progressive legislation on gun control, health care, and climate change that is finally moving through Albany, now that IDC backed Republican control has finally been broken.
The hopes of those who oppose Carlucci depend on most of the currently announced candidates backing out of the race so that one candidate can emerge to challenge Carlucci. A record in the Westchester Legislature or the endorsement of other elected officials might make for a good piece of campaign literature, but the metric that is actually going to determine who can beat Carlucci is fundraising.
The candidates’ reports of their fourth quarter fundraising will be out soon. The only candidate to announce her totals in advance of the formal report is Evelyn Farkas, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. Farkas raised over $460,000 for the period. If no other candidate matches that total, Farkas will be best placed to challenge the elephant in the room. Democrats would do well to look at her qualifications and consolidate their support behind a candidate who has the resume and resources necessary to overcome Carlucci’s built in advantage.