Tim Gill launched Fight Back NY to specifically unseat Democratic lawmakers in New York who don’t support marriage equality. The Human Rights Campaign launched the Campaign for New York Marriage for the sole purpose of “re-elect[ing] state lawmakers who supported the bill on same-sex marriage last year, and to oust those who voted against it.” Then how come State Sen. Carl Kruger, one of eight Democrats who voted against the marriage bill, and who is widely rumored to be a homo himself, is running for re-election unchallenged?
When Kruger — who supports rights for gays only after they die — rallies for another term representing South Brooklyn in November, he’ll be doing it with at least $2.6 million on hand, the most money of any New York lawmaker save Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. So how come neither FBNY or CNYM, or even the Empire State Pride Agenda, has managed to find a viable candidate to face off against him?
The closest shot was Igor Oberman, an attorney and (now former) administrative judge who announced his candidacy in April, but he failed to submit the necessary signatures to get his name on the ballot. Wonderful. “It wasn’t the right time to do a challenge,” he says now. “There is too thin of a Democratic majority right now, and with the budget the way it is it wasn’t time to go forward.” Oberman insists nobody pressured him to drop out, and he’s now throwing his support behind Kruger, like a good Democratic whipping boy.
What’s so bad about Kruger? Not only does the veteran lawmaker wield much power in Albany (he’s the chairman of the Senate’s Finance Committee), he’s also in deep with noted anti-gay Democrats like Pedro Espada, Hiram Monserrate, and Ruben Diaz, who collectively managed to halt the Senate’s vote on same-sex marriage until Gov. David Paterson waged a very public war to get them to bring it to the floor. And when they did, our side came up short. That, and Kruger is often more aligned with Republican colleagues than his own party. (Kruger is “so close [with Republicans] that they made him the chair of the Senate Social Services Committee in 2007 when the GOP still held the majority,” relays GCN. “Kruger’s betrayal in taking the post led the Democrats to bar him from their caucuses, out of the fear he would confide sensitive information to the opposing party.”)
How did we get here? Did the state’s LGBT groups — the ones specifically fighting to elect candidates who support marriage equality — drop the ball? In July when the Empire State Pride Agenda, released its “first round” endorsements in July, Oberman’s name was nowhere to be found. (Thankfully, neither was Kruger’s.) The Stonewall Democrats did endorse Oberman.
It’s irresponsible to blame only groups like FBNY, ESPA, and HRC’s CNYM for failing to find a candidate to oppose Kruger. There are thousands of factors that might keep candidates out of the race, leaving Kruger floating easily into another term. But if these groups are soliciting donations from LGBT voters, and if they are telling us their message is to elect candidates that’ll get us moving on marriage equality, doesn’t it make sense to eliminate one of the biggest Democratic traitors of them all?
They — we — failed.