Saturday, October 31, 2009

The more things change....

So..DeDe Scozzafava has called it quits...does that bode well for the conservative (Republican), or the Democrat (Independent)?

Well...I am from the district, and those of you who are outside are leaving out the important fact that this is really four or five different distinct "neighborhoods" within the sprawling 11 county district. It is not at all a socially or demographically cohesive area. There is the Northeasteren end, Plattsburgh,Franklin, Essex county, Eastern Adirondacks...then the Western part...St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties..then Oswego County ( part of Syracuse SMSA which is the reddest of all of the counties, but is itself made up of rural areas, suburban Syracuse, and the Oswego river Valley, which is largely urbanesque), then there are the really rural parts of the district like Lewis county, and parts of Fulton county...and the Northern fringe of Oneida County (Utica-Rome), and all of Madison County (part of the Syracuse SMSA).

With Scozzafava out of the picture, we can take out the "known" factor...she was at least more "known" than either of the two rivals in at least her part of the we are left with two candidates, only one of whom is known in any part of the District, and that is his native Clinton county area (Plattsburgh). That area has always been the tail of the district, and it is still unlikely that it will wag the dog!

By choosing a candidate from the Eastern end of the District who is an Independent, and unkown person in the Western and CNY part of the District, the Democrats were gambling that divisions in the Republican voting ranks would allow him (Owens) to sneak by with less than 40% of the vote.

Now, he will need more to win..and where does that come from? He is kind of up the creek without a proverbial paddle, as the natural tendency of the district to vote Republican will come back into play in a two person race...unless..the Democrat
was a well known person, with support from and a base in the Western and Central part of the District..which the DCCC had an opportunity to choose, and did not.
Voters don't always vote simply ideology...Owens is a decent, reasonable man, and far from the extreme..either left or right..but he is a little aloof, and stiff in his personal interactions, and has never held elective office, and so is not a very good stump campaigner. He is not the type of person who engenders wild enthusiasm. He is merely a plausible choice.

Hoffman, on the other hand, is a kind of shy Geek-like accountant who has been totally subsumed by the national right wing agenda...he is not a very compelling persona either...but he does have momentum going his way...and that will count for something.

In the final analysis..all politics is really local...perhaps 1600 Pennsylvania avenue should have taken note of that, before choosing a candidate whose philosophy is unfathomable..whose campaign has been controlled..whose personality is bland, and whose support may be broad , but is very thin.

Bottom line..the Right wing Republican will probably prevail...but in this case, he could as easily have been Mickey Mouse, so long as he is a Republican. The Democrats needed Mighty Mouse..not Casper Miltoast..and even would have been near impossible without it being a three way race. So much for this race sending any message except that our system of choosing candidates, and campaigning is broken, and sorely in need of major repair. Madison, Jefferson, and the other founders of our country would not be proud of what we have become!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama needs a lesson in NY politics

I have a confession to make. I am a Democrat. And as a Democrat, I want my Democratic President to succeed. I want my Democratic Governor to succeed. And I want my Democratic Attorney General to continue his record of success. None of these wishes are mutually exclusive. It is theoretically possible that all three of these aspirations are achievable. However, the reality of the Democratic party seems to be that when we want to assemble as a firing squad, more often than not, we form a circle. We here in New York are quite capable of doing this on our own, without any assistance from the White House.
This Democratic drama was painfully in evidence this past Monday, when President Obama came to town, ostensibly to sing the praises of Community College cooperation with the collective community, and the benefits it can portend. Joe Bruno was not invited. David Paterson was. I’ll bet Governor Paterson wished by Monday morning, that he could trade places with former Sen. Bruno, and skip the event altogether, and go off swinging on a nearby swingset instead. The difference here is that Bruno expected his disinvite. Paterson did not deserve his. For me, having to watch the Democratic President diss the Democratic Governor of New York was even more painful than watching Tom “The Hammer” DeLay dance the Cha-Cha to the tune of Wild Thing!
Even if the President’s move ultimately turns out to be savvy political positioning on his part, and the jury is still out on that… it was done poorly…done in bad form, with bad timing to boot. The President has his hands full in battling for affordable health care, and in deciding what to do to stop the battling in Afghanistan . To open another front, and engage in political battling in New York, before being invited in, is a battle he should avoid. It may even result in a Phyrrhic victory, handing the Republicans an opportunity to win the ultimate war. His actions were unseemly at best, and downright dumb at worst. Obama’s forays into New York Politics in the Senate race, dissuading Steve Israel, among others, from waging a primary battle for the Senate nomination, and his minion’s meddling in the selection process for the 23rd Congressional district were not warmly received in some Democratic circles. There is a role for the President to play as the leader of his party, but in politics…timing is everything..and his timing is off.
Our Governor took a bold and dramatic step in appointing a Lieutenant Governor to try to end a silly, and self-indulgent Senate soap opera. Amazingly, the Court of Appeals has now said he was right to do that. He won! It is entirely conceivable that the court of public opinion may yet reverse itself in its judgment of our brave, bold, and blind Governor, who as it turns out may have more foresight than realsight when the last chapter in this saga of NY politics is finally written. Somehow, I have come to the conclusion that the large lady has not yet stepped up to the microphone to sing in NY, and that while some may think that we in NY have gone from banana republic to just plain bananas …in the final analysis…timing, good judgment, patience, and persistence, may in fact , actually pay off.
As for President Obama, his political pedigree is as yet untested in such intra-party matters..and it might behoove him to hold his fire until called upon to step up to the plate. The bottom line is that his intervention in NY politics at this juncture was unwelcome, unwarranted, and just plain wrong! I would rather cheer him on for what he is doing right, ( and he has done a lot that is right) than chastise him for what he has done wrong. But to remain silent in the face of an improvident exercise of political power on his behalf …to not call him on it, at a time when he can learn a valuable political lesson, might only lead to even greater mistakes in the future, which could be avoided with a little sage restraint.
I wish you well Mr. President. I wish you well, Governor Paterson. And I know you are already doing well, Mr. Attorney General.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PAP (Post Adirondack Politics)

Now that the Democrats have apparently settled on their candidate for the 23rd Congressional District seat, ( Plattsburg Attorney Bill Owens) it will be interesting to see how lock step the Democratic rank and file are in lining up behind him. It is no secret that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and State Chair June O'Neill played a major role in inducing the 11 County chairs to bypass all of the Democratic contenders to choose the Plattsburgh neophyte..and now the question is..will it play In Peoria? (or Pulaski, Potsdam, and Parish). While Owens is telegenic and personable enough...does he have the gut instincts that connect with the very fiber and being of North Country Democrats? They are, for the most part, not members of his type of golf club. He is not a Darryl (Everyman) Aubertine, or a feisty farm girl (boy) like Addie Jenne Russell. He doesn't seem to have the same gut instincts for politics that an Ernie LaBaff, will all the special interest Washington money they can pour in triumph over basal politics and the gut instincts of the downtrodden but determined Democrats who have tilled the North country political soil for many years? We shall see soon enough!
Maybe his former law partner's wife, the Albany lobbyist, and employer of Joe Bruno, Kay Stafford, can dip into her piggy bank left over by her late husband's campaign, to make sure that he has enough sheckels to show he has the right stuff on TV. Right now, it looks like it is going to be a hard sell...but, never know!