John Sabini has just exited the Senate chamber after being unanimously confirmed as chairman of the Racing and Wagering Board.
He was nominated on the floor by his fellow Queens Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, who said he was performing this task with "great joy and some sadness," noting that it was Sabini, back when he was county leader, who supported letting Smith run for the Assembly in 1986 (and lost).
And Goodbye John Sabini
Smith was rescued from a sticky political situation by Gov. David Paterson's decision to tap Sabini for this job, thereby removing him from a tough primary battle with Councilman Hiram Monserrate, whom the Queens Democratic Party abandoned Sabini to back.
Smith had pledged to support Sabini, but that was problematic. Sabini was widely believed to be in danger of losing to Monserrate, whom the party wanted to bring in to avoid challenges by his organization to district leaders (and perhaps a threat to Rep. Joe Crowley somewhere down the road), and would have been expensive to protect.
Senators on both sides of the aisle rose this afternoon to praise Sabini. Not one of them mentioned the political expedience of this confirmation.