Not a week goes by that our newsroom doesn’t receive a press release from state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. Whether she is honoring a Boy Scout or Girl Scout or explaining her position on hydrofracking or the microstamping of guns, Schimel actively courts media attention.
But the legislator who is now in her third term representing Great Neck in Albany does not always enjoy the attention. At a meeting of the Great Neck Village Officials Assocation last week, Schimel said she found out what it was like to be an “elected official on the run.” It was “the worst of times,” she said, “a traumatic experience.”
“That was a frightening time and I don’t wish it on anyone,” she said. “I hope everyone never has to go through those three days. It was really traumatic for my children, for myself.”
Schimel was referring to what she described as a terrifying “three days in May” that started when her estranged husband Mark Schimel announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to run against her in November’s general election. On May 14, citing pressure from members of the media, Mark decided to leave the race.
About one year ago the couple that had been married for 32 years announced that they were estranged. Schimel said her estranged husband’s decision to run against her sparked a national media frenzy.
That’s a little bit of an exaggeration. However the battling Schimels did merit a story on the Huffington Post, a four-paragraph mention in the Daily News and a clip in which CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan attempted to interview Michelle Schimel as she backed her car out of her driveway. She was also beseiged for a a few days by the media in Albany.
The media coverage has been “horrible,” she said. “You know that I had a guard. Once I finally got to Albany, I could not go to the bathroom myself.”
Michelle Schimel should accept the fact that she became a public figure when she first ran for elected office. The fact that her husband of 32 years was running against her was a legitimate news story. But she is not Joey Buttafuocco and this is not Watergate and we are pretty sure she can go to the ladies room any time she likes.
Schimel has put herself on the frontline on some very important issues, including hydrofracking – a controversial approach to mining for natural gas that critics say could threaten the Long Island Sound – and microstamping – the use of laser technology to engrave a microscopic marking onto the tip of the firing pin and breech face of a firearm. Because of her positions, she has drawn heated opposition from the energy and gun lobbies, including the NRA.
She has shown courage in these battles, but she appeared a little silly when she tried to hide from the press after her estranged husband entered politics.