Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jeff Klein Out, Mike Gianaris In as State Senate Democrats' Top Political Strategist by Celeste Katz - NY Daily News

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Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris (left) will replace Jeff Klein (right) as the new head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Jeff Klein is out as the state Senate Democrats' top political strategist after a bruising election cycle that left the party facing a possible Republican majority.
Democrats are making Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris the new head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee instead, the Daily News has learned.
"Mike Gianaris is a dynamic fund-raiser and effective leader who will work with our members to win more Democratic seats," said Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.
"With his energy and expertise, Senate Democrats are gearing up for a successful election cycle."
Sampson called Klein "instrumental in key victories this year."
But as Sampson applauds Klein, whose district spans parts of the Bronx and Westchester, there is more going on behind the scenes - as usual.
Insiders readily admit Klein had it tough this cycle, what with anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the nation and the state. It's also not uncommon for leadership of the DSCC to change hands between election seasons.
One top Democrat specifically says Klein could've better managed the Dems' resources.
Klein signed off on too much money to back Democratic hopefuls like Susan Savage and Joanne Yepsen in races where polling suggested near-certain defeat, the insider griped.
"We spent a million on those two races, and they both got killed," the source said. Klein could not be reached.
That money, insiders say, could've gone instead to put boots on the ground in races like that of Long Island's Craig Johnson, whose next court date in his struggle to keep Republican Jack Martins out of his seat is today.
Gianaris steered clear of talking about the rumblings that the replacement of Klein, who's still deputy leader of the conference, had to do with any designs he might have had on Sampson's leadership post.
He also insisted there was "no merit" to any suggestion that Sampson, who's made a few not-too-laudatory headlines of his own, might fear being toppled.
"We have a lot of work to do," said Gianaris, who moved up from the Assembly to the Queens Senate seat vacated by George Onorato.
"The Democrats around the country had a difficult year last year," Gianaris said.
"The state Senate came out of it in a lot better shape than some of the other Democratic institutions in New York and around the country," he said in praise of Klein.
And he has a vow: "Even if we end up in the minority, we will not be in the minority for very long."
Through the special elections that tend to crop up each year, Gianaris said: "I have a prediction Democrats will be in the majority before the end of 2011."