At the beginning of this week, we offered our endorsement in the race that will be at the top left corner of the ballot for all New York voters, the governor's office. But there are three more statewide races on this year's general election ballot: state comptroller, state attorney general and United States senator from New York.
This year's race for the four-year term includes Democratic incumbent Thomas DiNapoli, Republican Jonathan Trichter, Green Party nominee Mark Dunlea and Libertarian Cruger E. Gallaudet.
Comptroller certainly isn't an elected office that gets a lot of glory, but it's a vital job for New York state. The comptroller's office manages the massive New York state public employees pension fund, conducts audits of local and state government entities, reviews a wide range of state contracts and provides crucial financial analysis for the state budget.
With all of those responsibilities, it's important to have a person who works independent of party politics. Since being appointed comptroller in 2007 and winning two subsequent elections, DiNapoli has proven that he is a straight-shooter who isn't afraid to challenge an executive branch that is run by a fellow Democrat, which for the past eight years has been Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A perfect example is DiNapoli's push to get economic development contract oversight restored to his office, something the governor opposes. But it's a fight that DiNapoli knows he must take on to help bring needed accountability to the state's job-creation investments.
DiNapoli's kept the pension fund performing well, and we've seen numerous examples of helpful audits his office has conducted of local school districts, municipalities and authorities.
Trichter, a former Democratic operative, has a strong background in helping troubled pension systems recover and he's worked at high levels of the banking industry. A big part of his campaign has been to try to paint DiNapoli as Cuomo's enabler, implying that the incumbent has responsibility for the corruption scandals that have hit the governor's office. But that take ignores the reality of how DiNapoli has performed and the stances he's taken. Moreover, it concerns us that Trichter would look to politicize the office against the governor if Cuomo wins re-election.
Gallaudet's campaign seems to be mostly based on the claim that only a comptroller who is not a Republican and Democrat can do the job of acting independently well, while Dunlea has made clear he would use the pension fund for social activism.
In this race, DiNapoli emerges as the strongest candidate.
A crowded field of candidates is on the ballot for the state's top law enforcement position: Democrat Letitia James, Republican Keith Wofford, Green Party nominee Michael Sussman, Reform Party nominee Nancy Sliwa and Libertarian Christopher Garvey.
James has held elected offices in New York City as the public advocate and a city council member, and she has impressive legal experience working for the state Legislature and attorney general's office. She's made it clear her top objective would be to fight President Donald Trump. While we support efforts to protect New Yorkers from federal overreach, we're concerned that James' state mission would detract from efforts to do the work that's in the state attorney general's job description.
Wofford is a Buffalo native and Harvard law graduate who's worked in credit law for more than two decades. Wofford has made it clear that he views the attorney general's office as having an important role in rooting out government corruption, and he also believes the office, under control of Democratic AGs for 20 years, has become too much of an activism vehicle for progressive causes.
Sussman is a long-time civil rights attorney with an impressive list of accomplishments in that field of law but we don't see his background translating into an effective state attorney general. Garvey's focus appears to be on overturning gun safety laws that he would be sworn to uphold and Sliwa's top priority is animal rights.
For his broad range of legal experience and plans to put a needed focus on state government corruption, we believe Wofford is the top choice.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is seeking another six-year term, and she's facing a challenge from Republican Chele Chiavacci Farley.
Gillibrand has represented New York well since being appointed to the position in 2009, when she replaced Hillary Clinton after Clinton became U.S. secretary of state. Gillibrand previously had been an upstate congresswoman for a district north of Albany, and she has worked hard to stay connected with New Yorkers throughout upstate New York. She's been a vocal advocate for women's rights and against sexual abuse, including her courageous work taking on the military's culture that fosters such abuse. Gillibrand also has worked well with Republican congressional colleagues from the New York delegation to get targeted legislation and funding secured. And she's been a leader in fighting for rights of 9/11 first responders affected by health issues.
Farley stepped into the race after having been involved in state party politics as the party's New York City fundraising chair. She's worked as a managing director at a private equity investment firm. Farley's campaign has largely focused on attacking Gillibrand and parroting many of the national GOP talking points. She says she will fight to bring more federal dollars back to New York. Other than that, though, it's hard to figure out what Farley's platform is about, and her elected office experience is clearly inferior to her opponent.
We believe Gillibrand has earned another term representing New York state in the Senate.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.