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How Did HRC + Fight Back NY Let Anti-Gay Democratic NY Sen. Carl Kruger Go Unchallenged?

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.

[photo via, via]


  • 10 Comments
    • Nelson G
      Nelson G

      For what it’s worth, there are gay activists and bloggers here in New York City who have conceded to Ruben Diaz even though Diaz has shown, and I’m citing a recent protest by Queer Rising at a fundraiser in the Bronx, he’s scared of losing.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Robert, NYC
      Robert, NYC

      Its going to be very difficult to remove 8 conservadems, it might take decades. I don’t see marriage equality ever becoming a reality in our state for many years to come, its not that progressive, in fact its regressive, and there’s far too much interference from the varying religious cults, especially from the roman variety who have the ear of quite a few politicians. Religious beliefs trump our rights, that’s always been the case and it will continue until some democrats grow a pair and take them on, but they won’t. This November and beyond, be very careful who you donate money too. Let them know that unless they can deliver, they won’t get one penny. They’ve yet to earn it.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nelson G
      Nelson G

      @Robert, NYC: True that; although I’m of the belief, now, the real reason why Gay, Inc. isn’t offering a viable contender against Kruger (or Diaz) is because they need people like Kruger and Diaz for their own fundraisers.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kurt
      Kurt

      $2million in the bank and a south Brooklyn consistuency that probably is fine with his vote on marriage. I dunno, how much money would YOU suggest be diverted from elsewhere to this?

      Aug 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      “Failing to find a candidate?” Cut me a check for $2.6 million to be on even footing with Kruger, and I’ll do it. You could call the HRC or Target for money, that is, if they are still speaking to you.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brutus
      Brutus

      Michael beat me to it, but sure, run me (although it’s too late this cycle under NY’s labrinthine election laws). I even lived in South Brooklyn last year.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      @Brutus: You are by far a better candidate than me, therefore, I cede my support to you, for a mere 50% of the $2.6 million.

      Aug 17, 2010 at 7:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • geminitrouble
      geminitrouble

      I live in So.Brooklyn. Like many parts of NYC its quite conservative — our district went heavy for McCain, for example. (Not that its hostile to gays — my bf are quite popular in our little neighborhood, but then, we do have cute dogs.) The reality is that if it wasnt Kruger it would be a republican. that’s the only way he might be unseated. not too sure which is worse…

      Aug 18, 2010 at 9:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Miller
      Brian Miller

      Just more evidence, in addition to HRC’s Best Buy/Target shakedown efforts, that it’s about the money and not the politics.

      The people in these groups make BIG money for doing relatively little work — and they have no accountability.

      I’m sending my money to GLAD and the ACLU. We’re winning our rights in the courts, and electoral politics is a waste of time (as well as a den of hypocrisy).

      Although I’ll confess some small trend towards missing the amusement of watching six-figure salaried nominally-queer politicos fawn over a pro-DOMA Senator or anti-marriage-equality president yet minutes later break down into angry tears over a anti-marriage candidate from the “wrong” party.

      Aug 20, 2010 at 12:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Louis E.
      Louis E.

      Now that Kruger caved into Cuomo I bet you think he’s a hero.

      (I’m a non-religious Democrat who is utterly disgusted by my party leadership’s listening to the worthless arguments for same-sex marriage,and although a lifelong New Yorker will never marry here as long as SSM remains legal).

      Jul 27, 2011 at 12:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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