No GOP tidal wave, but some races worth watching
In just a few more weeks we have a major election in New York state so let’s go through the list. What could turn out to be a national trend toward the Republicans just isn’t going to happen in New York. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, a man I have described as a “whack job” and a “mutt,” has taken the opportunity to harness people’s anger and driven that opportunity into the ground. He is now considered simply too dangerous to entrust with executive responsibility. He’ll be slaughtered in the election. He had something going but he truly lost it. The malaise of the Republicans in New York state is such that they had no bench. When Giuliani and Pataki backed off, they were left with nothing. When the head of the ticket, Cuomo, wins by a lot it will mean tremendous benefits for everyone else with the Democratic designation.
Chuck Schumer can’t lose. He, too, will be reelected in a landslide. He has too much money, too much prestige, and too much energy for anything other than a big win. The other United States Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, is lucky to have Cuomo at the head of the ticket. She faces a much closer race. Joseph DioGuardi, a certified public accountant and former Congressman, has given Gillibrand a spirited run for her money. No question about it, he has a shot. His problem is that the people of New York state are more Democratic than Republican and most of those people are sophisticated enough not to want a Republican United States Senate. No matter what he says about the matter, he will vote with the Republicans to organize the Senate.
On the other hand, Gillibrand has her problems. As an upstate congresswoman, she once played the role of conservative on matters like gun control and anti-gay issues. Now she’s a liberal. In fact, a lot of stronger contenders like Congressman Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney could have been better candidates but Schumer and Barack Obama let it be known that Gillibrand was their candidate. They scared off other, better candidates and announced that they didn’t want a primary. Now Gillibrand has “evolved” and changed most of her conservative positions. Some people have names for that kind of political behavior. There are lots of rumors circulating that Governor Paterson is sorry he appointed her.
The state Senate is now, just barely, in the hands of the Democrats. To say that the leaders of that conference have squandered what could only be called a God-given opportunity is a huge understatement. Since the redistricting of Assembly, state Senate and congressional districts is on the table in the next session, it might be said that the feuding, greed and ineptitude shown by these folks is unbelievable. As a result of the stench coming from the Senate, it’s possible that the Republicans will take the so-called “upper” house. The problem is that while the Democrats deserve to lose the Senate, the Republicans who ran it like a fiefdom when they had power do not deserve to win. This is a classic lose-lose situation. Republican leader Dean Skelos recently told me that his members had learned a lesson and they would play the game more equitably and fairly in the future. That may be. This is pretty much a toss up but I have to say that I think the Republicans have the edge.
The two races that are thought to be close are for comptroller and attorney general. As everyone who can read knows, Alan Hevesi has now pleaded guilty to misusing his former office for personal gain. While the attorney general has cleared the Democratic incumbent, Tom DiNapoli, of any possible wrongdoing, his opponent, Harry Wilson, is trying to make something of DiNapoli’s incumbency. The polls don’t show the very bright Wilson making much headway.
The race for attorney general is as close as can be. Republican Dan Donavan, the Staten Island district attorney who trained under Robert Morgenthau, is in a dead heat with Democratic State Senator Eric Schneiderman. Some suspect that New Yorkers might want to elect a guy who has promised to root out corruption in Albany over professed liberal Schneinderman. Out of all the races, the Gillibrand-DioGuardi and Schneinderman-Donovan races seem to be the closest contests. The state Senate is up for grabs and some of New York’s congressional seats are too close to call. A few more weeks to go but anything can happen.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 10/12/10