The race to fill the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Michael Gianaris in Astoria - who is in turn the clear frontrunner to replace the retiring George Onorato in the State Senate - featured Democrats Aravella Simotas and Jeremiah Frei-Pearson. Now it features only one of those.
Frei-Pearson decided to end his campaign earlier this week, citing that he was unwilling to run a negative campaign. Unwilling to run a negative campaign?! As people who make their living off writing about the various missteps and accusations that politicians make, very often in the heat of the very negative campaigns Mr. Frei-Pearson maligns, we can only take Frei-Pearson's stance on the moral high ground as an affront to our livelihood!
Here's a snippet from the statement his "positive" campaign issued:
"Unfortunately, the dynamics of the race have changed in the past week. After this past week's developments, we still have path to victory - but that path would require us to run a negative campaign against a fellow Democrat. This is a path that I am unwilling to take."
Well, that's no way to get elected in New York City!
Maybe Frei-Pearson was upset about the fact that he might have to get down in the mud and start slinging it at Simotas, and if he decided he just couldn't bear to do it because he would be unable to sleep at night, then good for him, we guess.
But as we here at Pol Position have learned, things aren't always what they seem on the surface.
A cornerstone of Frei-Pearson's campaign was the work that he did following the devastating 2006 blackout in western Queens that left businesses and residents without power, some for a week or longer. Frei-Pearson was part of a group that put the pressure on Con Edison to cough up rebates that paid out about $100 per affected customer.
Frei-Pearson was a big part of said group, which negotiated on behalf of the community with Con Edison to arrive at the $100 amount. Once the settlement was announced, however, local lawmakers immediately blasted it as a sweetheart deal for Con Edison. Even so, Frei-Pearson was using his work on the settlement as a key selling point in his campaign.
And then, Pace University (coincidentally about the same time as Frei-Pearson made his announcement that he was dropping out of the race) released a study that showed the blackout caused $188 million in damages. It also revealed that the settlement that Con Ed eventually agreed to, the same one that Frei-Pearson helped make possible, really only compensated the approximately 174,000 people affected by the outage by about one-tenth of what they were owed.
Perhaps Frei-Pearson didn't want to run a negative campaign, but maybe what he realized is that the study basically destroyed one of his main talking points, and that the only way he was going to be able to win was to go incredibly negative, and even then he probably would have had a hard road, so just decided to throw in the towel.
Don't forget to turn out the lights on your way out!