The year 2008 ended with news that State Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate cut his girlfriend's face, which set the stage for months of speculation and court appearances that finally ended with Monserrate pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. But believe it or not, that might not have been the craziest news that involved Hiram Monserrate last year.
In June, he teamed up with Bronx politician Pedro Espada, Jr. to effectively hand the State Senate over to the Republicans, just months after the Democrats gained a slight edge in the legislative body, giving them a majority in both the State Senate and the Assembly, as well as a Democrat in the governor's mansion. Oh yes, we all thought that Albany gridlock was a thing of the past and we would all walk hand-in-hand into the rosy future that was to be New York State, but Monserrate and Espada had other ideas.
Yes, the old adage that the more things change the more they stay the same proved true again, and now the political scene in our State Capital seems even more hopeless than ever, if that's even possible. And it looks like Monserrate is going to be at the center of the maelstrom again in 2010, as state senators decide whether or not to kick him out of their political club. If they don't, Monserrate is going to face a formidable challenge from a former political ally in the form of Jose Peralta, a race that is sure to feature more than its fair share of mudslinging. We can't wait!
While things were sloppy for the Democrats this past year, things were looking up for Republicans, especially in Queens, where the party pulled off the nearly unthinkable and picked up three seats in the City Council with the election of Dan Halloran and Peter Koo and the re-election of Eric Ulrich. We're not really sure how to interpret the sudden shift in the voters of Queens, perhaps they were disenfranchised, perhaps they just felt like making a change, perhaps they had been drinking, but whatever the reasons you can bet that the Democrats are going to try to get those seats back in a few years, which will make for some exciting general elections in a borough where its usually only the primary that matters.
Speaking of elections, outgoing comptroller Bill Thompson nearly pulled off the unthinkable in his Quixotic quest to become the next mayor of New York City by barely succumbing to the tens of millions of dollars that Mike Bloomberg spent to get elected to a third term in office. You have to hand it to Thompson, he defied the pundits and kept everybody on the edge of their seats well into the night, as he fell to the mayor by just a few percentage points in a race where absolutely nobody gave him a chance to win.
If you happened to catch Thompson's concession speech, in fact, you might have thought that he actually won he was so exuberant.
And in Brooklyn, incumbent Diana Reyna held off a challenge form a candidate hand-picked by powerful Kings County Democratic Party head Vito Lopez, which will no doubt make for some interesting backroom politics (which seems to be where most of the politics takes place in Brooklyn) in Williamsburg and Bushwick.
But what's past is past, and we're looking forward to the coming year, which we're sure will be full of stunning revelations and shocking accusations. Just taking a quick peek into the future, we have what is sure to be a hotly contested governor's race next year, as well as several other statewide races that are sure to generate fireworks.
And just thin of all the fun we're going to have in the City Council with so many freshman taking their set in the Chambers and getting their feet wet in the political pool for the first time. We don't know if 2010 can even come close to matching 2009 for sheer excitement, but quite frankly, we don't know if we could even handle it!