by Jeremy Moule
The leader of at least one city Democratic committee appears to be the target of some intra-party maneuvering by Assembly member David Gantt.
The situation centers around an arcane bit of party activity: selecting who will sit on city legislative district committees. Typically, the legislative district leader nominates people to serve on the committees. In this case, however, Gantt and his allies filed petitions for additional candidates in the 21st and 29th Legislative Districts, forcing primaries.
Some Democrats are particularly concerned about the Gantt camp’s push in the 21st LD. The district’s leader, Anthony Plonczynski, is one of the committee members facing a primary, and if he loses his seat, he loses the leader position with it. Plonczynski is also campaign manager for Jose Cruz, one of two candidates — County Legislator John Lightfoot is the other — challenging Gantt in a Democratic primary.
Some Democratic party leaders say that in the bigger picture, Gantt is trying to increase his influence and weaken opponents headed into the 2013 elections. The 2013 contests include City Council, school board, and the mayoral races. If Gantt’s committee candidates prevail, he’ll have a greater number of reliable votes in the 21st and 29th LD’s. He’d have more influence over whom the committees endorse in elections.
Gantt and his allies aren’t breaking rules here. They’re perfectly within their rights. Nobody ever said politics was neat, tidy, or civil; sometimes it really does come down to a pure power struggle. But some Democratic leaders say Gantt, who serves as leader of the 22nd Legislative District, has been gradually winning seats on other LD committees. They say that this recent effort is an escalation of those activities.