Embattled State Senator Carl Kruger may be hinting to colleagues that his days are numbered, setting off a whole new round of speculation about contenders for the power broker’s seat.
Authorities charged Kruger with accepting more than $1 million in bribes in March, revealing a 53-page criminal complaint that captured the personal and political life of the local leader in unusual detail. Contenders began emerging early on, and other pols moved quickly to scrub themselves of his money. But it didn’t look like Kruger was going anywhere. He pleaded not guilty, and, with enough party loyalty behind him, looked like he would keep his seat until he was either behind bars or voted out – which could keep him in power for years.
But now the Daily News’ political blog is reporting that he’s privately admitting to colleagues that he won’t run for reelection and may even resign, and one of our local councilmen is eyeing the seat.
The Daily News reports:
The Daily Politics is told state Sen. Carl Kruger is quietly (if obliquely) acknowledging to old friends that his days in the chamber are numbered, no matter what happens to the federal criminal case pending against him. And City Councilman Lew Fidler is quietly (and less obliquely) telling folks that he’s running for Kruger’s seat.
If Kruger resigns within 70 days, there would be a special election where the county Democratic committee would pick the Democratic candidate — and that is likely to be Fidler, who has been lining up support.
Over at Brooklyn Politics, they’re hearing similar things about Fidler. “I’ve heard the same thing as Celeste about Fidler and I believe that he’ll be the Democratic nominee for the seat,” they write. Sheepshead Bites can lend its voice to this as well; we’ve been told by several sources that Fidler is indeed the chosen candidate by the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club of Kings County – the same club that Kruger helped found decades ago.
[UPDATE: A Brooklyn Politics reader pointed out that a new campaign account has been set up for Fidler as of May 13. The committee’s name is Lew Fidler for New York, with Steven Saltzman serving as treasurer. This doesn’t necessarily mean Fidler’s running for Kruger’s seat, it just means he’s running for something.]
But the Democratic nomination may not be Fidler’s for the taking. We’ve also heard rumors that Russian-American journalist and political operative Ari Kagan might be poking around the innards of the Democratic machine to drum up support. Kagan ran for State Assembly, just barely losing out to Alec Brook-Krasny, who he now calls a “great and loyal friend.” Kagan has also worked as an assistant to U.S. Congressman Michael McMahon.
Kruger’s district is more Eastern European than Fidler’s City Council district, which could give Kagan more support with the area’s voters. But there’s no primary in a special election, leaving the choice between the two to the party. Fidler’s spent much more time, and generated far more goodwill, as an active and leading member of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party.
Let’s move on to the opposition. The Daily News noted three names, John Reinhardt, David Storobin, and Brooklyn GOP vice chair and mayoral aide Fred Kreizman. Kreizman is quickly dismissed by Daily News and Brooklyn Politics, since he’ll likely have a challenge to his residency (he lives in Staten Island outside the district).
David Storobin is a Russian-American lawyer, and we first reported that he was eyeing the seat back on the same day Kruger turned himself in.
“It is something I’m mulling over. If I were to get the support of the Republican party, it’s something I would strongly consider,” Storobin told us at the time. “I think that if I would run, I would win. I would not agree this is a Democratic area. It voted for McCain, for Giuliani, for Bush” and others, he said.
As Brooklyn Politics points out:
There is actually a “Draft Storobin” Facebook fan page and blog set up that encourage him to run for the seat. When I contacted Storobin about the page earlier, he said that a lot of Republican activists want him to run but that he’s made no decision.
Well, we’ve also heard from a number of people in touch with Storobin. He might not be ready to publicly say he’s running, but all sources say that his mind is pretty much made up. He wants Kruger’s seat.
And what about Reinhardt? The name draws a blank for Brooklyn Politics, but we can confirm this is Fillmore Real Estate’s President and CEO. (Full disclosure: Fillmore is an advertising partner of Sheepshead Bites. The existing deal was struck with an individual broker, but we have since explored larger deals with Reinhardt directly.)
Reinhardt is a Mill Basin resident and longtime business owner in the community. Fillmore’s headquarters are on the Sheepshead Bay-Marine Park border. He’s involved with the Brooklyn GOP of Craig Eaton, and we can confirm that he was mulling a run – with party support – as the GOP contender during Kruger’s 2010 election.
Of the names floating around Reinhardt certainly has the potential to put the kibbosh on Storobin’s plans. He’s a wealthy and well-respected business owner with the connections to raise the funds necessary to take on Fidler, who himself is no fundraising shlub.
What’s the takeaway here? Well, there appear to be two credible candidates from each party, and the decision is left to party leadership. Of all of them, Fidler has the most experience in public office. But at the end of the day, it’s the neighborhood’s ethnic dimensions that could determine who lands on the ballot. In the most likely scenario Democrats choose Fidler and Republicans might “draft” Storobin to drum up Russian support. But if Ari Kagan somehow makes the cut on the Democratic ticket, Republicans might be more reluctant to float another Eastern European, and would go for someone who could easily beat Kagan in fundraising: John Reinhardt.
Now we wait and see if Kruger resigns in 70 days or not, because, if he doesn’t, I just wasted a lot of words.