With literally every Democrat with any influence calling for his resignation, Vito Lopez — who has retained a seat in the Assembly in spite of resigning from his position as chair — is not long for this political world.
The question, then (aside from “Why do sleazy old men still, in 2012, think it will work out well to fondle and harass young women in the workplace?”), is who will step into replace him. Anointed by the press as much as his fellow party members, it’s looking more and more like that person will be Frank Seddio, a longtime collaborator and political ally of Lopez’s.
A true harbinger of change if ever there was one.
So, who is this man who would be king and what are we to make of him? It’s not 100% clear.
The Times describes Seddio as the “pasta-loving patriarch of the Thomas Jefferson Club,” and indeed, Seddio heads up one of the state’s most powerful Democratic clubs, and is also known for filling meetings with food, either from local pizza places or his own kitchen.
However, most of the details that have emerged about Seddio — who has already been calling allies around the borough to secure support as Lopez’s successor — are decidely mixed. For instance, he’s as known for his delightfully elaborate home Christmas decorations as he is for his support of former State Senator Carl Kruger, who’s now serving time in federal prison for a massive bribery racket.
This famous, occasionally misguided loyalty could easily explain away Seddio’s wide support within his party (he was recently endorsed by Marty Markowitz), though even opponents grudgingly admit that he could do the job well, including one anonymous politico who told the Observer, “I truly believe the party desperately needs someone who can bring everyone together […] And I really do think Frank could pull that off.”
Another mixed bag: Seddio resigned from a position as a Surrogate’s Court Judge only 17 months into a 14 year term amid inquiries into inappropriate donations to other members of the party, but was never charged or indicted.
And, if you happen to be swayed by these kinds of things, Seddio recently earned a public endorsement from a parody Sheldon Silver Twitter account:
Frank Seddio’s certainly got the jowls to be Kings County Boss.
— Fake Sheldon Silver (@ShellySilver) August 29, 2012
Okay, so that’s kind of a low blow. Moving along, what does seem important is that Seddio, for all his old timey Party Boss tendencies, seems reasonably self aware and pragmatic about the situation.
“I’ve never won all the way out,” he recently admitted. “I’ve always held great positions in politics and enjoyed the role I played in it, but every one of these positions has been the result of some tragedy. And this is occurring again.”
“I don’t say I’m going to be elected tomorrow,” he went on, “But I believe when all is said and done that the people I have worked with, some I have helped, some I befriended, that I will get the overwhelming number of votes for this.”
Nevertheless, Seddio does have some vocal challengers, namely reform-minded district leader Jo Anne Simon, and more tentatively Assemblyman Karim Camara, who has the backing of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
A political race against Seddio would certainly be an uphill battle for any Brooklyn Democrat, but hey, it just might be worth it. After all, Vito Lopez was originally brought in as a reformer.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.