New York Democratic state Senator Eric Schneiderman won election as attorney general yesterday, defeating Republican Dan Donovan with support from a coalition of women’s groups, unions and liberal activists.
Schneiderman, a Harvard Law School graduate whose Senate district includes upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx, was leading Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney, by 56 percent to 43 percent with 88 percent of the precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Schneiderman, 55, had backing from a coalition that included the Working Families Party, the National Organization for Women, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, civil-rights activist Al Sharpton and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Donovan, 53, the first Republican elected district attorney in New York City in more than a half-century, opposes legalized abortion.
“This was a campaign of activists and, boy, did we show what activists can do,” Schneiderman told supporters at a midtown Manhattan hotel. “If you are willing to speak the basic truths that define what Democrats are supposed to be, you can win an election.”
Watching Wall Street
The New York attorney general’s office, under the state’s Martin Act, has the power to prosecute fraud in the sales of financial securities, property and other assets, which helped establish former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s reputation as “the sheriff of Wall Street.” The office devotes most of its resources to defending agencies against lawsuits and overseeing non-profit corporations and charities.
In a state where Democrats hold an almost 2-to-1 voter registration edge over Republicans, and where Schneiderman had raised $4.7 million to Donovan’s $1.7 million as of Oct. 18, Donovan tried to take advantage of voter anger toward a scandal-tainted Democratic state government that was unable to pass a budget this year until four months past a March 31 deadline.
Schneiderman argued that Donovan’s anti-abortion views might make him less inclined to protect women’s health clinics from protesters. Donovan countered that he would enforce the state’s anti-trespass law prohibiting such actions, regardless of his personal views on the issue.
Schneiderman also vowed to pursue investigations of wrongdoing on Wall Street as his Democratic predecessors, Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo did, while saying Donovan would be less vigorous in scrutinizing the financial industry. Cuomo was elected governor yesterday.
“Dan Donovan took big money from Wall Street and says he’ll go easy on them,” Schneiderman asserted in a campaign commercial.
“I’m someone who wants to continue Andrew Cuomo’s work as an activist attorney general, fighting for people’s rights, standing up to powerful interests on Wall Street, in Albany and on Main Street,” Schneiderman said in an Oct. 26 debate in Albany.
Former Democratic Comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty last month to participating in a pay-to-play scandal at the state pension fund he once ran, becoming the highest-ranking official convicted in a three-year investigation by Cuomo.
Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal. The current governor, Democrat David Paterson, who replaced him, decided not to run when he became embroiled in ethics probes, and several legislators have been accused in criminal charges and civil lawsuits of official wrongdoing, including former Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Democratic Majority Leader Pedro Espada.