Republicans’ bench is a little thin on talent

So, where are the Republicans? Where is their bench? This will be the biggest election ever in New York State. All — and I do mean all — the major offices are up for grabs. It’s a rare election when not one but two United States senators will be running at the same time.

There are all kinds of indications that this will be a Republican year. The unthinkable happened in Massachusetts when the seat once held by John and then Teddy Kennedy went to a young “who-he?” Republican. This outcome was virtually impossible in the bluest state of all. It couldn’t happen but it did. The popular Bay State Attorney General went down in flames in a special election. The news for Democrats in New York state was pretty bad as well. Counties like Ulster, Dutchess, Nassau, and Suffolk were scenes of devastation for the Democrats. Insurgencies like the Tea Party and the “Vote them all out” movements became part of the political culture. People who had put their trust in Obama slammed on the brakes and covered their bets. On the face of it, a dark volcanic cloud drifted over the Democrats. All the Republicans have to do is find some people who are known to the public who will run for office, people like Massachusetts’ now United States Senator Scott Brown.

It turns out that this may be easier said than done. They really don’t have such people. As usual, they turned out the usual suspects. First there was Rudy Giuliani. They always raise Rudy from the political dead. You name the office, the Republicans were going to run Rudy. Governor, United State Senator, Rudy was their man. Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Rudy wasn’t going to run. His star has faded. It’s burned out. It’s tarnished. You see there’s this guy, Bernie Kerik, Rudy’s former wunderkind. It turns out that the man Rudy and George W. Bush wanted to head the national homeland security operation is a crook and that he was crooking on Giuliani’s watch. Bernie Kerik is a like a dead mackerel hanging around Giuliani’s neck. In any election, the smell would be unbelievable. “Why didn’t you know that the man you made both police chief and corrections chief was ripping you off?”

It doesn’t stop there. Giuliani thought he would be president and went down to Florida with the mistaken belief that the Floridians, including a lot of ex-patriot New Yorkers, would elect him president. As they say in gin rummy, he got “schmeared.” He’s as done as a piece of your mother’s overcooked roast beef. Finally, Rudy ain’t running because he’s making too much money, the kind of money that you are not allowed to make in public office, particularly in the United States Senate. His firm has represented a lot of people. Some of these clients might not pass the smell test. Interestingly, the one situation in which he might actually win at this point would be if he were to run against United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She’s not doing well in the polls. But Giuliani hasn’t got the guts. He won’t do it.

Another name that the Republicans seem to perpetually rely on is George Pataki. His name gets run out all the time. Just like Mario Cuomo, he ran out his string but he is a Republican super-star and if the Republican constellation was aligned just right, he might win. But he, too, is making big money in his law firm. The polls show that he wouldn’t reach first base against Andrew Cuomo in a run for governor and Pataki doesn’t want to be greeting constituents at the U.S. Capitol. He won’t run for Senate. He already did that on the state level. Of course he will be looking for vindication and a run for U.S. Senate against Gillibrand would be just the ticket. The man seems clean and doesn’t have Giuliani’s problems. It would put him right up there as a potential presidential candidate. He’d like that. Maybe.

After those two used up politicians, the Republicans don’t seem to have anyone on their bench. They have folks like John Faso, who they may just run for comptroller. There seems to be a bit of a food fight between Andrew Cuomo and Tom DiNapoli, the incumbent comptroller, but DiNapoli has a lot of friends who will be out there helping him. After that, there is no one. The Republican wannabes who are attempting to run are a pathetic lot who have been self-destructing before our very eyes. Like I said, no bench at all but unlike the Yankees in baseball, they can’t even buy talent.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 4/20/10

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