He’s been out of politics for more than eight years, but former four-termer Steve DiBrienza held a clinic — call it “Campaigning 101” — for the six rivals for the Windsor Terrace seat he used to hold.
The slick-talking DiBrienza, who was term-limited out of office in 2001 and then lost a race for public advocate before becoming invisible on the public scene, announced last month that he wanted his old seat back.
So there he was at last Thursday night’s “candidate forum” hosted by the Windsor Terrace Alliance, showing up late, but elbowing his way into the action.
It wasn’t what DiBrienza, said to the crowd in Bishop Ford HS on 19th Street — that was mostly boilerplate.
But he spoke with the ease and comfort of a longtime political hand.
Then again, one man’s old political hand is a political hack desperate to get his job back. You don’t have to believe me. There were some in the crowd that felt that way.
“I haven’t seem him at a community meeting in eight years,” said one man unmoved by the fluid former councilman.
But whatever the insiders think, the public may be swayed by a sharp-looking, poised candidate who can argue — accurately — that he understands government from the inside out.
That sets him apart from the political newcomers who are his rivals, including front-runners Brad Lander and Josh Skaller, top challengers Bob Zuckerman and John Heyer, and likely also-ran Gary Reilly.
Of the now-seven people running, only Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6 and an inductee into the New York City Hall of Fame, has run for office before.
But Reilly dismissed DiBrienza’s flair as all style, no substance.
“He was a four-term city councilman, so he should be pretty comfortable,” said Reilly, of Carroll Gardens.
For the record, the rest of the pack, all gave solid performances, too.
Lander might have come off even better had he not been keeping his best news so close to his vest: He just got endorsed by Community Board 7 Chairman Randy Peers!
That announcement wasn’t made until Monday night at Laura’s, a Prospect Avenue restaurant. Of course, the Politicrasher was there. The meal was free, after all.