Friday, February 12, 2016

Let the contest begin


The battle between incumbent state Sen. Jeff Klein and recently term-limited Councilman G. Oliver Koppell promises to be a bruising one. 

Often more mud is slung in intensely local elections than in statewide or national campaigns.

Both men have close ties to the members of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club and with party members throughout the Bronx. No doubt, feelings will be hurt and tempers will be frayed even by those who declare neutrality in the race.

In its 64-year-long history, The Press has never made an endorsement, preferring to present as detailed a picture as we can of the candidates and the issues and let the wise voters of Riverdale decide. But we believe that contested elections are better than uncontested ones.

Elections focus our attention on important issues and it is good to consider which candidate can best make a difference once in office.

Mr. Koppell has a long and honorable record of public service, including a short stint as New York State Attorney General and a lengthy stay in the state Assembly. He was even pressed into service as President of Community School Board 10. 

Mr. Klein has proved adept at steering through the shoals of Albany politics, rising to the level of Co-Majority Leader of the Senate.

It is that title, and the way in which it was won, that has so rankled the 73-year-old Mr. Koppell that he is willing to come out of retirement to challenge a man 20 years his junior.

Mr. Koppell is not alone in his disgruntlement that Mr. Klein put together a small coalition of breakaway Democrats to form the Independent Democratic Coalition (IDC). To make matters worse, in their eyes, the IDC made a pact with the devil, Republican leader Dean Skelos, to share power in the senate. 

A petition, signed by thousands of Democratic faithful from around the country, urged Mr. Koppell to run, and he believes his campaign coffers will be filled by donors who agree with them.

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