1. She verified the irrelevance of the Working Families Party. I haven't found them interesting in a long, long time, but their decision to dump her in favor of a deal with Cuomo—a deal that I guarantee he had every intention of carrying out before they made that deal—proved their small-mindedness and gave her the opportunity to connect with people who would never have taken a third-party candidate seriously. WFP's dumping of her was a gift to us all.
2. She reminded Democrats of our roots. Instead of capping property taxes and worrying about gridlock, she talked about corruption, the environment, and dignity for all.
3. She suggested that NYers don't have to settle. Until she decided to run, everyone I knew was resigned to another Cuomo term. We spoke about the governor's race dully, if we spoke about it at all. Even the most gung-ho Dems I know could only pick on social policy as a plus for the Cuomo regime, and that starts to pale in significance when you start to look at the map. I mean, we were seventh, not first, when it comes to marriage equality. New Hampshire and Iowa beat us, and they aren't exactly bastions of liberalism. Is it a radical, profound position or just part of a trend?
4. She made politics fun again. With sparkling energy and unaffected enthusiasm, she lit up small rooms and open spaces and often seemed larger than life. Someone said to me early on, "All people have to do is meet her, and they'll vote for her." I thought it was hyperbole until I met her.
5. She brought up some critical issues. Her attempt to sue the State Committee for paying for and sending out Cuomo mailers failed thus far, because that sort of unsavory party-as-an-arm-of-the-governor's-office was more-or-less legalized in 2006, but the lawsuit reminded us how wrong that relationship is. She showed us once again how deeply corrupt our institutions are and how insensitive to corruption we have become. She shone a light on the dark corners of the Cuomo administration, pointing out its failure to connect at any genuine level to the people of the state.
6. She unmasked the governor and revealed him as the mean-spirited bully everyone had always said he was. He had countless opportunities to refute this impression, but he failed at every turn, becoming more and more himself with every passing week—insular, angry, cowardly, and rude—up to today's grotesque behavior at the Labor Day Parade. If nothing else, she punctured the test balloon for his anointing as presidential candidate down the road. And she did it all not with the bombastic ire one would expect when confronted with the dreadful, tangled, nasty political mire that is the State of New York and the people who run it—but with a smile. We owe her, seriously, our eternal gratitude.