The Bronx Democratic county organization on Thursday night backtracked from what sources said was a backroom deal for a judgeship that could have resulted in shifting around some elected officials — and possibly one who just lost his primary.
Sources told NY1 a few days ago that the county organization was considering giving one of the local judgeships to State Sen. Jeff Klein, who lost his Democratic primary to Alessandra Biaggi a little over a week ago.
Up until that point, there was talk that Klein may run in the general election on the Independence Party line. Biaggi was expected to easily win the general election and become the next state senator for the 34th state Senate district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester, because of the large enrollment advantage Democrats have in the district.
Sources said there was already a deal in place for the judgeship to go to Bronx City Councilman Andrew Cohen, and State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx was hoping Cohen would take the judge spot so his son, Eric, could run for Cohen's City Council seat in a subsequent special election. Eric Dinowitz was planning on running anyway, but a special election would have given him an early advantage in the race.
The county Democratic organizations of New York City nominated candidates for the court Thursday night. Judges who get the Democratic line are often viewed as near-guarantees to be elected in November because voters often do not know who is running for judgeships and vote for whoever appears on the party line.
State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the head of the Bronx Democratic county organization, then went on a bit of a rant about my reporting at the public meeting:
"I don't see Zack Fink here tonight. And, by the way, when they allege that 'This is what you are doing, you can't do X, Y, and Z,' and I said, 'Well, who told you that's what we're doing?' He said, 'Oh, you're not going to do it now because I told you so.' Oh please, you're not that important in my life," Crespo said in an audio recording of the meeting, which was provided by City & State.
The county organization ended up not nominating Klein or Cohen for the judgeship.
It's not clear what Eric Dinowitz will do now. Cohen's Council seat is up for election in 2021. Sources told us that the Assemblyman's son had been meeting with Crespo and Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres this past week.
New York is one of the few states that elect judges at this level. It was intended as a democratic reform to allow regular practicing attorneys a chance at serving on the bench. The party organizations have instead dominated the process and often use them for political patronage.