by Jessica Alaimo
February 6, 2014
Citing mishandling of the Vito Lopez scandal, a Republican attorney and environmental lawyer has thrown her hat in the ring to run against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Maureen Koetz, currently a partner at the Koetz and Duncan law firm in New York, is a former policy director at the Nuclear Energy Institute, a former counsel for the U.S. Senate Energy Committee and was acting assistant/principal deputy assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics at the U.S. Air Force.
“Sheldon Silver should disavow himself of continued service in public office,” Koetz said. “Many people called on him to resign and he did not do so, so the alternative is to run against him and defeat him.”
Silver traditionally has had an easy path to reelection in his heavily Democratic district. In 2012, he beat Republican candidate Wave Chan by a vote of 25,128 to 4,906, while the Lopez scandal was ongoing. In 2010, he was unopposed.
However, last year statewide polls indicated declining popularity for Silver following the Lopez scandal, in which the speaker authorized settlement payments to sexual harassment victims. A Quinnipiac poll released last June showed that 51 percent of voters thought Silver should resign.
A spokesman for Silver did not immediately return calls for comment.
For those unfamiliar with New York politics, think of Sheldon Silver as New York's version of Harry Reid, except Silver also has a gerrymandered Manhattan district to protect him and a bunch of other gerrymandered districts in NYC preventing his party from ever being unseated in a general election.