Party backing gives Andrew Cohen an edge
A Press news analysis
By James Palmer
The term limits rule is forcing veteran District 11 City Councilman Oliver Koppell to relinquish his seat after 12 years of service, leaving an open field for Democratic contenders to compete for the opportunity to represent the party during the Sept. 10 primary.
But the playing field is not level.
The primary on Tuesday to replace Mr. Koppell in this year’s general election brings together a candidate backed by the local governing establishment and an outsider who describes himself as an insurgent.
The members of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club support Andrew Cohen. The group is comprised of Democrats representing Riverdale and Kingsbridge including Rep. Eliot Engel, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Senate’s Co-leader Jeffrey Klein, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Mr. Koppell.
In essence, the Democrats have utilized their support to strengthen Mr. Cohen and position him as an incumbent.
Opposing Mr. Cohen is Cliff Stanton, a private businessman with endorsements from Citizens Union and former Community Board 8 Chair Damian McShane.
The race highlights the difficulty for a newcomer to break down walls and gain footing in the major parties.
Still, the primary illustrates the possibility of an interloper not only smashing the barriers of the ruling institution, but also setting down roots and supplanting the establishment.
One of the main obstacles facing Mr. Stanton in his quest to overcome Mr. Cohen’s reinforced status is voter apathy. A recent study by graduate students from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service says New York City has one of the lowest voter turnout rates of any metropolis in the United States.
Fordham University Political Science Professor Bruce Berg says the odds are usually steeply against the insurgent candidate, particularly in a primary.