Monday, April 19, 2010

Sources say ex-Bronx beep Adolfo Carrion will run for Lt. Gov, but Andrew Cuomo has to pop question

Elizabeth Benjamin

Monday, April 19th 2010, 4:43 AM

Adolfo Carrion may run for lieutenant governor.
Lombard for News Adolfo Carrion may run for lieutenant governor.

Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión is bored working for the Obama administration and is angling to return to New York politics - as Andrew Cuomo's lieutenant governor.

Sources close to Carrión confirm he's been reaching out to Democratic operatives and former staffers to gauge interest in his potential comeback.

So far, the only spot Carrión has expressed interest in is running mate to Cuomo, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee. A win could set Carrión up to run for mayor in 2013.

Here's the catch: Carrión wants to be asked to run, sources said, not the other way around. So far, there has been no response from the Cuomo camp.

"If he gets out too far in front of the Cuomos, he's dead," said one Democratic insider. "They want to be in control of everything. They don't want other people telling them what to do."

Those on the receiving end of Carrión's pitch say it includes the fact that he'd help with ticket-balancing by being the lone Latino on the ballot and perhaps the first Latino to win statewide office.

He also has suggested that his time in Washington as President Obama's urban czar has improved his ties to big-money donors.

Carrión hasn't mentioned the conflict-of-interest scandal exposed by the Daily News in March 2009 in which he failed to pay an architect who designed a renovation of his City Island home. He finally ponied up, two years late.

Carrión was widely expected to run for mayor last fall, but opted instead to seek the controller's office to avoid a racially tinged primary with former Controller William Thompson. Carrión eventually shelved his political aspirations altogether to become director of the White House Office on Urban Policy.

If Carrión were Cuomo's running mate, the Democratic statewide ticket would be dominated by downstaters, with the exception of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who lives in Columbia County. There would also be no African-Americans on the ticket, as there are currently no announced black Democratic candidates.

To date, speculation about a potential running mate for Cuomo has focused on two upstaters: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who is black, and Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, who is white.

The position of lieutenant governor has taken on new significance since ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal forced him from office, elevating his unvetted, untested No. 2, David Paterson, whose tenure has been rocky - at best.

Two Democrats have already announced their candidacy for lieutenant governor: Democratic donor Bill Samuels and Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence of Rockland County.

- Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter just announced her primary challenge to state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx this past Saturday, but she's already gaining attention in Democratic circles. She's even poised to pick up her first labor endorsement.

"It's a tough choice: A felon who doesn't live in the district or a community activist who has supported us and issues that are important to us," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. He said a nod from his organization for Pilgrim-Hunter could come as early as this week. (For the record, Espada is not a felon).

Pilgrim-Hunter has already hired the consulting firm BerlinRosen, whose principals used to work for the Senate Democrats, and fund-raiser Lisa Hernandez Gioia. Other Democrats and unions who remember Espada's role in the 2009 Senate coup are likely to take a close look at her candidacy, although the Senate leadership is expected to remain loyal to him - at least publicly.

Liz Benjamin is the host of YNN's "Capital Tonight," a statewide political show. She can be reached at liz.benjamin@ynn.com.

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