(Left to right: Sheldon Silver, Paul Newell, Luke Henry)
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (representing the LES, Chinatown, Nolita, Financial District, and Battery Park City) is one of Albany's notorious "three men in a room" controlling a corrupt and undemocratic state government. Thanks to Silver, congestion pricing was never allowed to the floor for a vote, thus protecting Assembly Dems from having to go on public record as being pro- or anti-pricing. He has not been challenged in a Democratic primary since 1986.
Enter challengers Paul Newell and Luke Henry. Newell and Henry are aiming to unseat Silver this fall and offer a progressive's dream agenda: clean money, clean elections; stronger rent regulation (including repeal of the Urstadt law that denies New York City home rule in determining rent regulation); an end to partisan redistricting; marriage equality for GLBT New Yorkers; and congestion pricing and other livable streets initiatives.
I would be thrilled if either man managed to unseat Silver, but if I could vote in this election (which I can't because I don't live in the 64th Assembly District), I would probably throw my support behind Newell, who seems to have greater political experience and be stronger on livable streets issues. I also think he may have a more intuitive grasp of GLBT issues than Henry (for example, transgender inclusion), although honestly I couldn't identify any real difference in their published positions. Nevertheless, Newell's profile in the NY Sun mentions that he eschews driving in favor of riding around the city on his red mountain bike, so what's not to like?