Ex-Silver Pointer Wins Third-Party Nomination In N.Y.

Jun 7 2010 | 10:59am ET

Former hedge fund and private equity executive Harry Wilson got a much-needed boost to his campaign to be New York’s next state comptroller this weekend, winning the backing of the Independence Party.

Wilson, who has worked at Silver Point Capital, the Blackstone Group and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, will appear on both the Republican and Independence party lines in November’s elections. Small third parties can play a major role in New York state elections, and Wilson’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, nabbed one of his own over the weekend as well as the nominee of the Working Families Party.

DiNapoli did pursue the Independence line.

Wilson is the only Republican picked by the Independence Party, which has backed a diverse array of candidates in its 20-year history, including former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, in 2006, and Republican John McCain for president two years later. It is closely aligned with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself something of a political chameleon.

The Independence Party backed Democrats Andrew Cuomo for governor and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for re-election. It nominated a placeholder candidate to succeed Cuomo as the state’s attorney general, a blow to Bloomberg, who backs Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

“This election is a turning point,” Wilson said in accepting the nomination. “It’s what I call an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

Wilson certainly hopes the nomination is a turning point for him: He trails DiNapoli in the polls by more than 20 points, despite the fact that DiNapoli was not election to the post, but appointed in 2006 following the resignation of then-Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

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