Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was in the running for newsmaker of the year in several years since our publication’s launch in 2006. From 2005-2009 he served as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In that role he oversaw a total of 14 Democratic gains in the Senate during the 2006 and 2008 elections.

In both those years he could have earned our recognition, but we picked 2010 for several reasons.

First, he played a key role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in the spring of that year.

Second, he won reelection with 67 percent of the vote.

Third, he was named chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Schumer was already technically the No. 3 ranking senator at the time, but this promotion gave him more influence and even took some responsibilities away from the No. 2 senator, Dick Durbin. It finally had became clear that Schumer had cemented himself within the D.C. Democratic Party power structure. The Brooklyn-born lifelong politician clearly lined himself up to succeed Harry Reid as the chamber’s top Democrat, and the media could no longer avoid speculating about it. It seemed inevitable.

Next year will likely be Schumer’s best. Assuming the polls are accurate and the Democrats take back control of the Senate, he will be the majority leader – one of the most powerful positions in federal government. While his rise to power was through a slow, methodical process, 2010 was the year it became clear that this could be his destiny.

That’s why Schumer is our 2010 newsmaker of the year.

 

2010 Newsmaker, Runner-up: Eric Schneiderman

Eric Schneiderman

When Andrew Cuomo vacated his position as attorney general to run for governor, a heated primary ensued to find his potential replacement and keep the position in the hands of Democrats. Eric Schneiderman, who had represented the 31st Senate District since 2003, distinguished himself by forming a coalition of unions and African-American leaders, and in arguably the most competitive statewide race of the year he was able to hold of now-Rep. Kathleen Rice by 16,500 votes in the five-way election.

Despite Schneiderman being a clear favorite in November, his victory over Staten Island district attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. was much closer than expected, likely thanks to that year’s conservative wave driven by anger over the nation’s poor economic recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown.

Ethics reform was at the top of Schneiderman’s priorities as a candidate. Upon election, however, his efforts to reform Wall Street by investigating the big banks whose shenanigans helped orchestrate the great recession quickly became his signature fight. None of that would have been possible if he wasn’t elected, which is why he is our runner-up for newsmaker of the year in 2010.