Beware of Dead Dogs
I’ve always estimated The Dead Dog vote to be 24%.
If you are an unknown who puts your name on the ballot in a head to head primary against an incumbent and does nothing, and the incumbent does nothing, you are going to get 24%
Unknown Gail Goode, who shot her wad getting on the ballot, and whose campaign after that consisted mostly of hanging literature on light poles, got 24% in the Democratic primary for United States Senate.
A Dead Dog would get 24%. Hence the name.
But the Dead Dog vote is not a floor; one can blow even that.
It was 1996 and Brooklyn Democrats were engaged in one of the meaningless wars that gets them so animated (in contrast to, say, general elections for POTUS, which they regard as days off from political activity, unless they are sending troops out of town, or, like Dov Hikind, they are busy working for the Republicans).
To really engage Brooklyn Dem pols of every stripe one needs a judicial primary composed of candidates no one heard of the day before yesterday and no one will remember the day after tomorrow.
Like the 1996 Surrogate’s race.
Clarence Norman and Ed Towns, joined by most of the back leaders, as well as most of the party’s “reformers” (Jim Brennan a notable exception) had decided to make an apparently competent but (as it turned out) somewhat sleazy Judge named Mike Feinberg the Surrogate. A group of mostly white leaders led by Tony Genovesi and Vito Lopez, later joined by black insurgents (including Rock Hacksaw), decided to oppose Feinberg by running a somewhat more honest, but batshit eccentric, Judge named Lila Gold.
There was also a third candidate, Howard Lasher, then in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and occupying a City Council seat (forgive me for repeating myself).
Another candidate suddenly emerged; a judge named Ferne Goldstein; any confusion caused by the names was purely intentional. Goldstein had been put on the ballot by operatives in County’s employ. One of Goldstein’s most aggressive petition carriers, Lorin Wiener, was on Feinberg’s campaign payroll.
When Goldstein was ordered removed from the ballots by the courts, manipulations, which point to County, prevented the Board of Elections from meeting to carry out its legal obligations, and then, malingering by Board of Elections employees, which also point to County (as well as to the usual incompetence of that agency), prevented the removal of Goldstein’s name from the ballot until such removal was too late to implement before the machines had to be delivered to poll sites.
The end result was that dozens of poll sites did not open until the afternoon, resulting in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, while at other polls sites, Goldstein’s name illegally remained on the ballot.
During the Board of Elections meetings, Brooklyn’s Democratic Board member, Weyman Carey, would sometimes speak, but witnesses say party Executive Director Jeff Feldman’s voice always seemed to be coming out of his throat.
The Surrogate fight was a proxy fight. If Feinberg lost, it seemed almost certain that the Genovesi faction would next come after Norman’s County Leadership.
Norman responded in various ways, including finding candidates to run against Gold supporters Lew Fidler and Renee Hauser.
Totally by coincidence Fidler and Hauser’s Assemblywoman, Helene Weinstein, the Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on the Judiciary, who Norman was decidedly not challenging, had alienated the Deadbeat Dad’s Lobby. They responded by running against her two lunatics. One was named Myron Weinstein and the other Michael Hizme.
The brilliance of the scheme was that Myron was to confuse voters and split Helene’s vote so that Hizme could cruise to victory.
One needed 500 good signatures to get on the ballot, and Hizme went door to door personally and got 560, Helene challenged them and got him down to 554. Serious thought was given about inviting Hizme to join the club.
Myron got about 1000 signatures, all street crap. The Board of Elections ruled him down to 502. Myron had failed to file a validating petition allowing him to challenge the Board’s findings. If he had been ruled down to 499, the window for him to file would have re-opened, but he’d been unlucky enough to have been ruled on the ballot instead of off it. Helene had, however, filed an invalidating petition and Myron was off the ballot in about five minutes, as Myron had no way to get back any signatures already ruled off by the Board.
Primary day consisted mostly of dispatching people around the county to bull their way into polling places in order to put stickers over Ferne Goldstein’s name in voting booths where the Board had neglected to remove it.
But Helene Weinstein wanted some attention.
Hizme, an Orthodox Jew, had refused to give his wife a religious divorce, leaving her an Agunah, a chained woman, unable to remarry (though, given her luck the first time, it was questionable why she would have wanted to).
During the campaign, fliers appeared in the Orthodox areas attacking Hizme for his conduct. Weinstein had nothing to do with them.
Now, on primary day, armies of Orthodox woman had appeared at polling places in the Orthodox areas handing out nasty literature about Hizme.
Weinstein thought their operation inefficient. She insisted that her club stop defacing voting machines in an effort to do the job the board of Elections had failed to do, and find the ringleader of the Angry Agunahs.
The ringleader was located and a call placed to attempt to get her to better coordinate the Agunah’s polling place coverage.
The ringleader of the Angry Agunahs was not cooperative.
“With all due respect to Ms. Weinstein, this had nothing to do with her.”
Hizme did not get the dead dog vote. His little personal matter cost him 15% of the Dead Dog base, leaving him with only 9%. Tow year later, he tired again in another district and got 8%.
It takes a lot to forfeit the dead dog base, especially given how easy it is to expand.
Take Pat Maher, the Dead Dog who challenged Congressman Gary Ackerman; a local observer writes:“The only real question is:
HOW THE h_LL did Pat Maher get on the ballot?
Pat Maher started off as a good gov challenger without any money, networks, grassroots, etc. to the Nassau Repubs. She ran against the GOP's endorsed candidate for the County Leg(Norma Gonsaves---another great political brain of the millenium...) from her East Meadow district in the first or second County Leg cycle when the system was new. She lost---terribly.
She was basically ridden out of the GOP for that apostasy, which is what they do when you challenge them.
Somewhere along the line, she became a Dem. She also pulled some primaries in our party against other party endorsed candidates, and got thumped, badly as well.
She lives in EAST MEADOW. East Meadow is NOT in the Ackerman district. Not by a long shot.
I ran into her in May at the County Democratic Convention. She queried me at length about how people felt about Ackerman, and obviously was not a fan of his.
Believe me, you can count the votes that she'll get in simple digits.”
Yet this woman got 31% of the vote.
I love Gary Ackerman, but a showing like this should be an occasion for some introspection, and perhaps a time to start looking at some retirement communities.It is more difficult to lose Dead Dog votes than to expand them, but it can be done if a candidate tries hard enough. Certifiable nutcases Mark Escoffery-Bey and Andre Soleil managed only 19% and 20% respectively.
Yet they had an impact. In Soleil’s 50th AD, “reformers” are clinging to a 20 vote lead in the race for male District Leader (I’m predicting it goes away once the ballots form the Hasidic nursing home on Heyward Street are opened), but even though, as I predicted, the regular’s male Leader candidate outpolled their female Leader candidate by 300 votes, the female regular won, courtesy of the votes drained by Soleil’s’ running mate (he did not run anyone for male Leader).And in the Bronx, where the regular Escoffery-Bey challenged for District Leader (while he was also running for State Senate) slept through the race, E-Bey managed (with the important Gatemouth endorsement) to win, proving that in a race between two dead dogs, anything can happen. My guess is that E-Bey’s place on the ballot for Senate acted as a free advertisement to vote for him elsewhere.
Which in its circuitous way, brings us to the point of this column.
Reshma Saujani, spent at least $1.4 million dollars and managed to get only 19% of the vote.
Only one other candidate running against an incumbent for public office in the entire City managed to get a vote lower than 19% in this year’s primary.
This year, the only thing lower than a Dead Dog is a Wall Street Democrat.
Reshma, got back to your hedge [fund] and bury that Dead Dog.
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