By Elizabeth Benjamin
There's little rest for the weary when it comes to pollster/consultant (and DN vet) Joel Benenson, who is fresh off helping to elect a president and has already signed on with several New York campaigns.
Last last month, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced he had hired Benenson to work on his first statewide run in 2010.
Today, Queens Councilman Eric Gioia confirmed he too has hired Benenson as part of the team that will run his 2009 public advocate bid.
UPDATE: An aide to Councilman David Yassky informs me Benenson is also working for the Brooklyn lawmaker, who is gearing up for a likely comptroller run next fall. Now all the pollster needs is a mayoral candidate, and he'll have a full citywide stable for 2009.
Benenson has actually been working for Gioia for about a year, which means he started back when he was still heavily involved in Barack Obama's presidential bid. The two had been talking for several years, Gioia said, and then had a face-to-face meeting at which they "clicked."
"He's far more than a numbers cruncher," Gioia said of Benenson. "He shares my vision for what a campaign should be."
"There are a lot of people who will tell you that to succeed in politics, you have to slice and dice the ecloctrate and find wedge issues and demographic issues to come up with your winning strategy; I don't like that," the councilman continued. "I think you have to appeal to people's better angels, and unite a diverse city with common values and common goals. That's not only good politics, but it's good leadership."
Although he is continuing to fundraise (the RWDSU, an early endorser of Gioia's '09 campaign, hosted a labor breakfast for him this morning), the councilman said he is currently engaged in "ramping up" his public advocate bid in other ways.
That means he'll be doing some more hiring soon, although he wouldn't reveal any names other than Benenson's.
Gioia has been working on his campaign for some time, giving him a potential leg up over some candidates who joined the race more recently, such as Councilmen Bill de Blasio and John Liu.
Another early public advocate candidate, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, is making his third attempt at the office and recently said he won't likely try again if he's not successful this time around.
Other candidates currently raising money include: Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV and Republican Alex Zablocki. Also considering a run, but not yet declared, are Councilwoman Jessica Lappin and former Councilman Guillermo Linares, who is currently commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.