Monday, February 14, 2011

Special Election Alert! Assemblyman Towns Lands Cuomo Post (Updated) by Liz Benjamin - Capital Tonight

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced he has tapped Brooklyn Assemblyman Darryl Townsto serve as commissioner and C.E.O. of New York State Homes and Community Renewal(HCR), sparking yet another special election – this time in the Assembly.
Under Cuomo’s proposed consolidation of state housing programs the commissioner also serves as chief executive of all the major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Housing Finance and Mortgage agencies.
Towns has served in the Assembly since January 1993. He currently chairs the Assembly Standing Committee on Banks and the Black, Puerto Rican/Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus (a post he has held since 2007).
“I have always said that I would reach out to the best and the brightest to join my administration. Assemblyman Towns is a dedicated public servant who certainly fits the bill,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“He has served the people of New York State with integrity and pride, and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
UPDATE1: Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto informs me this appointment does not require Senate confirmation. Also, as per Vlasto, Towns’ salary will be $150,000, which is a considerable decrease from the previous compensation of $225,000.
The 54th AD is solidly Democrat-dominated, so I don’t foresee another pick-up for the GOP in this one, but there could be a squabble among the Democrats over who gets to run to succeed Towns.
Towns is also the son of Rep. Ed Towns, who has successfully turned by two primary challenges by former reality TV star Kevin Powell twice since 2008, but nevertheless remains the subject of retirement rumors.
I always thought the younger Towns might try to succeed his father in the House, but apparently he’s decided to forgo the public stage for a while in favor of a job with the Cuomo administration.
Darryl Towns is, I believe the first African American commissioner appointed by Cuomo. (The governor has tapped several black and Latino cabinet members, and also selectedDr. Nirav Shah to be his health commissioner).
Cuomo came under fire during the campaign due to the lack of diversity on the statewide Democratic ticket, which included no candidates of color, one woman (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) and two upstaters (Gillibrand and LG Bob Duffy).
The Rev. Al Sharpton was a critic during the Democratic convention in Rye and also duringCuomo’s transition from AG to governor.
Cuomo, who is particularly sensitive to the who race issue after his failed challenge to then-Comptroller H. Carl McCall in the 2002 gubernatorial primary, worked hard last year to rally the support of black leaders. He repeatedly promised he would have the most diverse administration in New York history.