Beginning in 1990, I led an effort based in a large office on old Times Square called "Dump D’Amato in ’92!"
We were an educational effort registered with the F.E.C. to overthrow conservative U.S. Senator Alphonse D’Amato, who we dubbed "The Jessie Helms of the North."
Our sidewalk presence across Manhattan reminded voters how D’Amato’s voting record was more North Carolina than New York.
Mark Green met with me at the time and gave me advice on how to run a political effort. He was then New York’s Consumer Affairs Commissioner and could not be overly involved.
Sadly, the Democratic opponent, Bobby Abrams made an unfortunate -- though true –comment. Just before the election, he compared D’Amato to Mussolini. D’Amato was able to cry "ethnic bigotry!" - and won days later, by a hair.
That is how I know Mark Green, a long-standing, outspoken progressive leader in the City and Country. While he's both won races and lost heartbreakers -- like his two point loss to Bloomberg's $74 million after 9/11 – Mark will win this time.
After 30 years in the arena, Mark is gaining the traction he needs. He was Public Advocate shortly after I got to NYC, 1993-2001. He wants to serve again, as Public Advocate, replacing Betsy Gotbaum.
Mark was Public Advocate shortly after I got to NYC in 1993.
The office is now more important than ever. Today it serves as a counterweight to our powerful mayor - as well as an influential voice to improve city services.
Last month at a Tribeca Comedy benefit packed with 200 supporters, I chatted with Mark. It seemed like all the liberals except Arianna Huffington were there.
Talk show host and author Phil Donahue was there to MC. I wrote about being on Phil's show in the Huffington Post last week.
Phil introduced comedienne Joy Behar of The View. He and she were so complimentary, she added tongue-in-cheek that she should run for Public Advocate instead of Mark.
Mark has been there for virtually every NYC community, every year.
I was thrilled to see Phil and meet both Joy and actor/activist/talk show host Montel Williams.
The benefit reminded me that Mark has always operated outside New York’s Democratic Machine. Although he has sometimes lost because of it, it is always refreshing to behold an independent mind -- and author and blogger -- in the public arena.
He has written or edited 22 books. He has collaborated on published works several times with consumer advocate Ralph Nader and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
During the 1970's, Mark worked as one of "Nader's Raiders" at Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, including working on a case against the administration of Richard Nixon. He went on to run Congress Watch.
In 1981, Mark founded the New Democracy Project, a public policy institute, which he ran for ten years. During the 1984 presidential election, he served as chief speechwriter for Gary Hart.
Mark was elected the first Public Advocate of New York City in 1993 and was re-elected in 1997, getting more votes that year than Giuliani did on the mayoral line.
In that office, he fiercely opposed tobacco advertising to children, and as a result the FTC then forced the end of Joe Camel ads.
He twice successfully sued Giuliani over racial profiling and enacted laws protecting domestic violence victims from workplace discrimination.
Despite Mark's ties to Ralph Nader, he has not supported Nader's presidential campaigns. In 2000 he praised Nader's work as a consumer advocate, but endorsed Al Gore. In 2004, Mark served as New York co-chair of John Kerry's campaign.
Mark is a familiar face, often appearing on CNN, PBS, and NY1.
He was a regular guest on the show Crossfire on CNN and Firing Line on PBS, and more recently for six years debating Ed Koch and Al D'Amato weekly on NY1.
Endorsing Mark has put me in somewhat of a quandary. I am friends with several of his opponents, including Councilman Eric Gioia and the ACLU’s Norman Siegel. Sorry, guys.
I am thankful other friends are not running who may have. My Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Guillermo Linares, both considered a run.
Councilman John Liu was at first running for Public Advocate. I heard he told friends he could not beat Mark because of his record and popularity -- and so switched to run for New York City Comptroller.
Mark Green will be -- because he should be -- New York City’s next Public Advocate. He's more an advocate than a politician -- and the City needs someone of his smarts and stature to fix city government and stand up to a dictatorial mayor.
Edited by Vanessa Kim of oneworldexp.