Comptroller candidates Tom DiNapoli and Bob Antonacci’s closest encounter ahead of a scheduled October 15th debate was their back to back speeches at the New York State Business Council annual meeting.
Democrat Tom DiNapoli is the seven year incumbent, appointed by the legislature in early 2007 to fill virtually all of Alan Hevesi’s term, and elected to his current four year term in 2010. A member of the assembly for 20 years immediately prior to becoming comptroller, he has well-developed political skills. DiNapoli has a low profile for a statewide office holder, little known to the public, but is well liked in the political world. Importantly, he enjoys broad labor support.
DiNapoli barely mentioned his campaign in his speech, saying only that “I certainly hope and I expect to be the New York State Comptroller for the next four years.” He instead focused on his accomplishments in office, presenting a lengthy list of programs and initiatives coupled with a broader claim to have “restored confidence to an organization that had been dragged into scandal.”
Republican Bob Antonacci is the seven year incumbent Onondaga County Comptroller. An attorney and certified public accountant, he has a base of professional expertise well-suited for the office. He faces steep odds in his race against DiNapoli, however, with a recent Quinnipiac University poll putting him behind DiNapoli 56%-28%. He has little money, struggling to meet the thresholds under the new public financing regime and thereby receive state matching funds. He’s received minimal public attention, partly because the office itself receives little and partly because it’s widely viewed as a non-competitive race. As noted above, DiNapoli is well-liked, particularly by labor, and voters need a good reason to consider drumming him out of office. While Antonacci has argued that he’ll do a better job and discussed some specific things he would do differently, he hasn’t offered a clear argument to voters for drumming DiNapoli out of office. Finally, there’s a general similarity between the two in personality and physical appearance that further muffles any strong sense of contrast.
In his speech Antonacci addresses items that he contends “we need to fix New York State”, but it’s aimed more broadly at Albany and state government than directly at DiNapoli.