Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Site Search
   Search Metroland.Net
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 Columns & Opinions
   Looking Up
   Rapp On This
 News & Features
   What a Week
   Loose Ends
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
   Tech Life
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
   Listen Here
   Art Murmur
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad

Erastus Corning 2nd

Photo: Martin Benjamin

The Capital Region’s 10 most significant political figures of the past 30 years

It’s not that former state Senator turned federal indictee Joseph Bruno is a lightweight in the realm of political notables. No. It’s just that former Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd is such a significant heavyweight—his legacy simply towers over the Rensselaer Bruiser and the rest of our winners. Any man or woman who is even vaguely interested in politics and who has lived in the Capital Region for more than a week knows the name Erastus Corning, and for good reason. The grandson of a railroad industrialist and son of a lieutenant governor, Corning served as mayor for 41 years, longer than any other major American city mayor, creating a political machine that controlled nearly every function of public service, and whose impact is still being felt today.

Bruno reached the height of his power by securing, through a weekend coup, his position as majority leader in the state Senate in 1994, which he held for 13 years. Having made his home in Brunswick, little happened in Rensselaer County that Uncle Joe wasn’t given credit for, either good or bad. He played the handy villain for his enemies, and was the guy everyone else could count on for state handouts.

There are no real surprises in the remainder of our winners. Three former governors made the list, including Nelson Rockefeller, whose shadow is cast by the massive concrete pour that is the Empire State Plaza over the neighborhoods devastated by the draconian drug laws that bear his name. Eliot Spitzer, a onetime shining star in the righteous public-officials firmament, became a national celebrity as New York’s hard-nosed attorney general, and a national joke as New York’s biggest hard-luck hypocrite. Mario Cuomo gained the national spotlight in 1984 with a speech at the Democratic National Convention, and even people in the Midwest figured that he would run for president one day.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares took a risk and beat his incumbent former boss in 2004. He came into office as a reformer and his constituents must still believe in him, because he was reelected this year. Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who might be serving his last term this year, ironically tied the man who preceded him in the office, Thomas Whalen, a former Corning associate. Rounding out the top 10 is our very own Assemblyman and Albany historian, Jack McEneny.

And in the runners-up, one of the most-notable women in New York’s political history, Polly Noonan, joins her relative Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.


Survey respondents ranked up to 10 choices, and points were tallied as follows: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, and so on.

1. Erastus Corning 2nd (101)

2. Joe Bruno (48)

3. Mario Cuomo (45)

4. Eliot Spitzer (38)

5. David Soares (28)

6. Hillary Clinton (25)

7. Nelson Rockefeller (22)

8. Tie: Jerry Jennings (21); Thomas Whalen (21)

10. Jack McEneny (18)

Honorable mention: Polly Noonan (15), Jim Coyne (14), Kirsten Gillibrand (13), Michael McNulty (12)

>> Back to Metroland 30th Anniversary

Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home

Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.