I can’t imagine anything I’d rather not do more

Sometimes people win or lose elections because of the things that are going on in the state, the nation or the world. Sometimes candidates win or lose based entirely on the fact that “nature abhors a vacuum.” In other words, the ideas or character of the candidates have less to do with winning or losing than what is happening in the larger world that has nothing to do with the specific local candidates.

Mario Cuomo lost in 1994 to George Pataki because the country took a right turn big time. If it hadn’t been a Republican year, Cuomo would have won an incredible fourth term, and things might have been quite different in the state of New York. Instead George Pataki went on to serve three terms of his own. Since that time, he has been positing that if things would only go right, he might end up as president or vice president of the United States. You will never convince people who win the governorship of New York — the most important state in the union — that they don’t have the stuff to win.

Take the case of the always ambitious Andrew Cuomo. He has been impressive in New York, the media capital of the world, and he might have a shot at the presidency except that if Hillary Clinton runs, he has no chance at all. He certainly isn’t going to primary Hillary, and if Hillary wins, she’ll run for a second term, and if she loses, the Republican who beats her (although I can’t imagine who that might be) will run for two terms. By that time, Cuomo will suffer the fate of his father and start to run out of gas in the governorship. Now if Hillary decides not to run you had better believe that Andrew will be back in the race, big time.

In New York state there are several Democrats who won seats in the state Senate. They won despite the fact that their districts were drawn by the Republican majority in the state Senate so that their candidates could not lose. But, it turns out that it was an Obama election year and all kinds of people turned out who might not have, since presidential elections are usually the time that some Democrats who could not otherwise be bothered turn out to vote. But, as the old axiom goes, those who live by the sword often die the same way. So this year, the Democrats who turned out for the last presidential election, will not turn out, and not surprisingly, the polls are predicting a bad outcome for some Democratic candidates. Yet another thing that happens is that some third-party interloper runs for the same office and depending on whether they are a conservative who will spell trouble for the Republicans, or a Greenie who will take votes away from the Democrat, the outcome could change. One never knows what motivates people to run on third-party lines and destroy the chances of either party, but they do. Sometimes it’s the fact that an incumbent has lost and is angry and wants to get even. However, in the next election the third-party candidate is not there and that changes the dynamics of the election.

Of course, the political party people know all of this. They plan it as best they can and unless someone throws some kind of a political bomb into the mix, these things are often predictable. Sometimes when a Republican congresswoman loses an election in an Obama year, she is forced to run again to avenge herself, but by that time, the Democrat has the advantage of being an incumbent. As we all know, incumbents have tremendous advantages in elections.

As for me, I don’t like the way the game is played. I think it’s all pretty disgusting what with the money and the ads and the lies. But, hey, I’m not running for political office and I can’t imagine anything that I’d rather not do more.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 10/15/14
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