Why Margarita Lopez Lost * Editorial * NY Blade 9/16/05


NarCONon is Scientology!

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Subject: Why Margarita Lopez Lost * Editorial * NY Blade 9/16/05
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 06:55:28 -0500

New York Blade Online


Election blues

The Democratic candidate for mayor is going to have make a strong pitch to gay voters. So far, Ferrer has fallen short.


Sep. 16, 2005

So after all the shouting (that you probably didn't hear), the Democratic Primary is over and done with. Let's face it: Except for a handful of political junkies, the primaries are being greeted with a collective yawn.

With no urgent issues confronting the city's electorate and attention diverted to the disaster in New Orleans, the Sept. 13 primary failed to generate much excitement or heat. The results bore that out; with no exceptions, the low numbers followed the polls and the accepted wisdom.

The most interesting race was =97 or could have been =97 the Manhattan borough president, which pitted a lesbian and a gay man in a crowded field. Margarita Lopez, who has done a creditable job representing her East Side constituents in City Council, unfortunately made a few missteps in her campaign.

Instead of confronting head-on the issue of the Church of Scientology being a major campaign contributor, she chose to lash out at the New York Post, which broke the story, and to pooh-pooh the concerns of voters =97 gay and straight =97 who see this as an anti-gay cult. Adding fuel to the fire, news stories highlighted her office's work in establishing Scientology-sponsored centers for "healing" workers at the World Trade Center site after 9/11.

Whatever one's personal feelings about Scientology, these were not flippant concerns. Lopez would have done better to have addressed them directly, rather than killing the messenger (in this case, the Post) and rubbing salt into her wounds by sarcastically referencing the Catholic Church. On top of all that, Lopez was hit with bad publicity concerning campaign financing.

Towering above any of those issues, however, Lopez was probably hurt most in the primary by the crowded field. Carlos Manzano and Adriano Espaillat split the key Hispanic vote with her. This was particularly bad timing, as Fernando Ferrer's name on the ballot for mayor may have brought out more Hispanic primary voters than usual.

At the same time, Brian Ellner came within one percentage vote of Lopez's total. Ellner played the gay card masterfully. Aside from being the first politician (in my memory) to have campaigned at the drag drinkathon known as the Grove Invasion of the Pines, Ellner got a huge amount of publicity for being the first local political candidate to feature his partner in his TV ads. (He got even more free publicity when Fox-5 refused to air the ad.)

Lopez, a valued public servant who rose up from her bootstraps, is intelligent and ambitious. You can bet that she will be back in some other role, sooner rather than later.

Young, handsome, articulate and certainly ambitious, Ellner managed to distinguish himself and break out of a crowded pack. Even if he didn't win, place or show, he proved himself to be a remarkable campaigner with an innate political sense and moxie to spare.

The winner, New York State Assemblyman Scott Stringer, had several advantages, including endorsements from some gay political clubs.



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