By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
As Brooklyn Democratic Party leader Clarence Norman was starting trial last week on corruption charges, his peculiar approach to judicial politics continued to loom over local elections. In a case that has even veteran pols shaking their heads, a Civil Court judicial candidate has spent more than any other contendereven though she faces no primary.
Genine Edwards, a personal-injury lawyer whose mother belonged to Norman's father's church, had spent $103,000 as of last week, $93,000 of it for the services of William "Tahaka" Robinson, a personable and energetic young campaigner whose own mom, Assembly Member Annette Robinson, is a close Norman ally and who learned his political chops in Norman's club.
Guided by the younger Robinson, Edwards pulled off a minor miracle this spring: While five other candidates sought a Civil Court judgeship, none of them filed for the same seat as Edwards, allowing her to escape a costly and risky primary, and guaranteeing her election.
Norman said he had nothing to do with it. "That's one lucky candidate," he chuckled.
"I asked them not to run against us," explained Robinson, 36, who insisted he is "totally independent" of Norman. Robinson said he earned his pay through savvy maneuvering and hard work delivering literature and putting up posters. "I market candidates like rap stars," he said. Clearly his talents are in demand. Robinson has also hauled in thousands more from other Norman-backed candidates, including $16,000 from mayoral wannabe Gifford Miller, $10,000 from Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, $34,000 from district attorney candidate John Sampson, and $7,000 from Surrogate's Court candidate Diana Johnson.
"That doesn't all go in my pocket. I have expenses," said Robinson, who is no longer working for Miller or Sampson because of unspecified "differences" with the campaigns.