09/25/2012 07:26 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

A Caring Politician Who Doesn't Seek the Limelight

I have been covering New York's political world for more than a quarter century and I can count on one hand the number of people I have met who are both honest and who view politics as more public service than personal aggrandizement.

One of these few is Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, Rosie's less famous older brother.

Danny, as many refer to him, is a blunt, no nonsense public servant who is a smart lawyer and a man comfortable enough in his own skin that he does not need to seek out the limelight to feel good about his accomplishments.

Danny was one of the key driving forces behind New York State's Same Sex Marriage bill, but he did not yearn for the spotlight like others in this battle. I know from a well-placed source that he had numerous heated discussions behind closed doors with Governor Andrew Cuomo that helped push this legislation along.

I don't fully agree with Danny on some issues, like his fierce opposition to co-location of charter schools in public school buildings, but I know that when he takes a stand it's not because he's been unduly influenced by special interests for campaign cash.

How good is Danny O'Donnell? Good enough to be the next speaker of the Assembly?

He is an attorney, a must for that role, since the leader must help craft, filter and edit legislation by his members. He is a principled public servant with a track record and he has the respect of Governor Cuomo and his colleagues. The previous governor, David Paterson, thought so highly of him that he was on the short list to replace Senator Hillary Clinton when she became Secretary of State.

He is a member of the downstate delegation, a must in a caucus that is over 70 percent dominated by downstate members. He may not be a member of the minority caucus, but as an openly gay man and progressive, he can empathize with and advocate on behalf of those who have not had access to power for very long.

Daniel O'Donnell is as qualified as anybody to be the next Assembly speaker.

It may be a long time before Shelly Silver retires from the Assembly. But in politics you never know. And if I were Silver, I would start trying to groom the next generation of leadership from his party.

Danny O'Donnell and Karim Camara (a Brooklyn assemblyman) and others are the future of Democratic leadership in the Assembly.

It is time to focus on them and prepare them for that inevitable baton hand-off.

Tom Allon is a 2013 Liberal Party-backed candidate for Mayor of New York City.


Follow Tom's campaign on Twitter: @TomAllon4Mayor and Facebook.