September 11, 2013
By Steven Wishnia
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer narrowly defeated former Governor Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary for comptroller, winning 52 percent of the vote—and backing from almost every union in the city put him over the top. The loudest applause in his victory speech came when he vowed to “protect the 650,000 people who depend on our pension funds.”
Labor’s support was “tremendous, tremendous,” Stringer said moments after the speech, at a Manhattan bar. “They did a magnificent job.”
“All of labor was united backing Scott, and we all coordinated together,” said Local 32BJ President Hector Figueroa.
The New York City Central Labor Council sent out more than 100,000 pieces of mail, said political director Marco Carrion. In the campaign’s last week, more than 1,000 volunteers made over 75,000 phone calls. The CLC also coordinated a get-out-the-vote effort for Stringer in all five boroughs, as well as canvassing for victorious City Council candidates Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso in Brooklyn, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 President Daneek Miller in Queens, and Ritchie Torres in the Bronx, said community outreach intern Lisa Wojchowski.
“We had boots on the ground in all five boroughs, independent spending, phones, everything,” said Devin Maroney, deputy political director of the Hotel Trades Council.
Local 32BJ, which backed Christine Quinn for mayor, also put Stringer’s name on the 100,000 flyers it gave out, said Figueroa. The union also concentrated on Latino communities like Washington Heights, Jackson Heights, the Lower East Side, and Sunset Park, where, he said, Spitzer had more name recognition when he entered the campaign, but not very solid support.
“Scott’s always been a partner to labor,” said Carrion. The campaign was a priority, he added, to go “against the REBNY boys and make sure the voices of working men and women were heard.” The Real Estate Board of New York raised more than $6.8 million for its Jobs for New York political-action committee—ostensibly in alliance with building-trades unions to support pro-development candidates, but as of mid-July, its only contributions had come from developers.