Strange Bedfellows


The real horse trading among politicians comes at endorsement time. Often, political allies make obvious choices, rewarding friends who reliably stand with them on most issues. But, what to do when two of your friends decide to run against each other?

That was the dilemma that faced Jeffrey Dinowitz, powerful chairman of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, when Oliver Koppell, his political mentor and a founder of Mr. Dinowitz’s home democratic club, announced that he would try to unseat state Senate Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein.

Ever the reformer, Mr. Koppell let his outrage over Mr. Klein’s unusual power sharing agreement with Republican Dean Skelos simmer until he, himself, was ousted from the New York City Council by term limits. Almost as soon as he was free of that obligation he began contemplating a challenge to the man who “betrayed the Democratic Party and its liberal principals.”

It must have come as something of a shock to him when old friends in the leadership of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club — almost to a man and woman — jumped on his opponent’s bandwagon.

Mr. Dinowitz, was most prominent among them and there were many reasons he could have offered for his decision. It’s surprising, then, that one of them had such a hollow ring.

“I think it would be dishonorable for me, after asking our senator to do a list of things for our community — to work with us, to fight with us — to then repay him by not supporting him,” Mr. Dinowitz told the press as he announced his endorsement.

Dishonorable? Really? Couldn’t Mr. Dinowitz have used the exact same sentence to refer to the list of community fights he shared with Mr. Koppell not just recently, but for decades?

More likely, the endorsement was simply payback for Mr. Koppell’s refusal to back the Assemblyman’s son as a candidate for the seat in the City Council that he was forced to vacate.

Mr. Koppell backed Andrew Cohen and look how much gratitude that got him. So much for reform.