Gatemouth's General Election Voter’s Guide
I apologize in advance for this piece being a little late and bearing some resemblance to the items at a close-out sale (but that is the nature of NYC general elections not involving multi-millionaires). By contrast, before the Primary, I ran an ambitious four-part series concerning every contested primary for public office in the entire City of New York. My theory was that anyone who managed to get on the ballot in a primary was already interesting enough to be a subject worth covering. Unfortunately, this does not extend to the general election, where in my beat (the City), many races go unopposed, and even where there is theoretical competition, most non-Democratic candidates face opposition only from placeholders who make no efforts whatsoever, and are sometimes certifiable (shout-out to Sheepshead Bay’s Jack Benton). Because of the abysmal nature of the competition here, I’ve felt compelled to mention an occasional race in our suburbs to pick up the slack.
But first, let me offer congratulations and thanks to the following non-Democratic candidates for public office (none of whom have any chance of victory, and none of whom I’d ever consider voting for in a million years), for actually doing more than just putting their names on the ballot: Republicans Flip Pidot, Frank Scala, Dr. Stephen Finger, Yvette Velazquez Bennett, Daniel Maio, and Robert Heim, as well as the Working Families Party’s (WFP) Ken Diamondstone. You are all true heroes to democracy (and I apologize to anyone I’ve missed who might also qualify for such kudos). CORRECTION: Should have included Stewart Mirsky, who probably did better than any of them.
And special mention to Chris Migliaccio. Yes, Chris still needs to learn the difference between off-beat and beat-off (he's about a beat off), and his hands-on campaign reached its climax prematurely, failing to achieve satisfaction, but he will surely rise to the occasion once again fully engorged to do the hard work of stroking the electorate. Will somebody please give this man a cigarette?
The bottom line though is that there is little reason for a Comprehensive Four-Part Voter’s Guide in this General Election, so instead I offer a few stray observations.
Don’t Vote for the Greens Either: By my count, I’ve now published 13 pieces urging people not to vote for either the WFP or the Independence Party (IP) (this piece, which links to all but one of the others, should be sufficient). However, the fact that the Gatemouth/NY Times anathema on parties which practice "fusion" (a high minded term for what is usually called "extortion") does not extend to parties which nominate their own candidates, doesn’t mean we should give a line on a ballot to folks who’ve proven themselves a public nuisance. Every Friday night, my Shabbos ritual includes a few minutes of silence as I watch the "News Hour" list our latest dead in Iraq. If Al Gore was President, these people would be alive; if the Green Party didn’t exist, Al Gore would be President. Do the math. The Green Party consistently nominates really interesting eccentrics for Governor (Malachy McCourt won my heart when he did a one man show as George Washington Plunkett; Stanley Aronowitz is married to the World's Greatest Left Wing Writer; Al Lewis was Grandpa and, perhaps more imporatantly, Leo Schnauzer), but that doesn't begin to compensate for the loss of blood and treasure for which they bear responsibility.THE ONLY GREEN WORTH VOTING FOR IS ADAM! (OK Bouldin, you owe me dinner).
Governor: Vote for Spitzer ON THE DEMOCRATIC LINE! For those who need more information (where have you been?), this link does offer some reasons why.
US Senate: What would you expect a Clinton Democrat to say? For all my quibbles with Hillary (some of which, along with some of the things about her I like, are outlined here) she is a class act; her opponent is the class clown. John Faso is a relatively principled conservative; John Spencer is a Phalangist (If Pat Buchanan were Don Quixote, John Spencer would be Sancho Panza). And WTF was Spencer thinking when he mentioned plastic surgery? By now he's seen Hillary up close and had to notice the crow's feet (more like eagle's feet). If Hillary’s had cosmetic surgery, she's entitled to a refund. Someone call the AG's office!
Attorney General: A while back, I predicted that Jeanine Pirro, with the Independence Party endorsement, a bag of chits from Joe Bruno, and an opponent whose list of enemies outweighs the Manhattan Yellow Pages, would make this a race. I’d forgotten that Pirro had an enemy greater than all of Cuomo’s combined: herself (not to mention that jar of tomato sauce she married). For once, I am glad to be proven stupid; here’s why.
Comptroller: I’ve written four columns on this race (here, here, here, and here), and have made comments about it in at least five others (find them yourself). I’m hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll all turn out to be a bad dream (something I have in common with Hevesi). Memo to Chris Callaghan: Even if you win, your 15 minutes are over. If I were a gay urologist, I’d still be hard-pressed to find two bigger schmucks. Watching the televised debate, I concluded that if I had to chose between the three losers on the screen, Dominick Carter would win in a walk, and making him Comptroller would have the virtue of improving state government and NY One simultaneously. But, Dominick doesn't want the job, so let's give it to someone who does:
Write in Adam Green.
Congress: I buried this yesterday at the end of a barely related piece, but it bears repeating:
"The real message we need to send with this election is that the public’s tolerance for poorly planned and oedipally motivated wars, massive transfer payments to the superrich, and social policy in the hands of snake-handlers, has come to an ignominious end.
The way to send that message is to elect a Democratic Congress, but because of gerrymandering and the inherent nature of the Senate, the magnitude of the massive public repudiation of the Republican Party may get lost if the race is solely calculated by the number of Democratic victories.
However, in every election, commentators always take note of the number of actual votes cast on the Democratic line for Congress versus the number of votes actually cast on the Republican line. The message from that vote total will not be muted by a smaller number of actual victories; in fact, commentators will note the dichotomy when speaking of the actual scale of the Republican’s massive defeat.
However, what would mute the scale of that defeat and mute the message would be anti-Republican votes cast on lines other than the Democratic for Congress, even if those votes were actually cast for Democratic candidates. Therefore, if you truly want your voice to be heard you have only one option:
‘SEND A MESSAGE; VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRAT ON THE DEMOCRATIC LINE!’"
In the City, few of us will have the opportunity to do more than what I’ve suggested above, but those in Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn can actually make a difference by voting for Steve Harrison for Congress. Earlier this year, I was dismissive of Harrison, whose prior support for some Republicans, very conservative social views, and abysmal record as a candidate, did not bode well for his chances. Most importantly, his residence in the Brooklyn part of a district dominated by parochial Staten Island was bound to bite him. It almost certainly cost him the endorsement of "The Advance", and it lead to tone deaf gaffes like his support for two way tolls, a good public policy idea, but real bad politics. What Harrison should have said is "One way? Two way? I say ‘No Way! Let’s eliminate the damned tolls!" But let’s face facts, no one from Staten Island was willing to step up to the plate, and Harrison is a far better fit for the district than Park Slope’s Bill DeBlasio, who’d have raised far more money and have been blown out of the water as a "colonizer" and "interloper" (to quote one of our esteemed members of Congress), not to mention a "liberal" . As I’ve noted before, the egregious incumbent, Vito Fossella, combines everything wrong with the national Republican Party, with the very different vices of the local Staten Island Republicans, so let’s hope for a Harrison victory.
In the Suburbs, two races stand out. Long Island Rep. Peter King’s "shoot from the hip" honesty and occasional breaks with party ranks have their appealing qualities, but the willingness of a man who could credibly be called the "Congressman from Sinn Fein" to demagogue about terrorism and illegal immigration, as King does in one television ad, hits a new low on the disinegenous scale. Vote for David Mejias.In the area extending from northern Westchester to the Hudson Valley, Sue Kelly, once hall monitor for the Congressional Page Program, faces former wimp-rocker John Hall of the best forgotten band "Orleans" If you can call Orleans Rock and Roll, then Hall would be the third Rock and Roller in Congress. Dan Hamburg of California spent about 15 minutes in the Fugs and Sonny Bono of California wrote "Needles and Pins" for Jackie DeShannon, "Laugh at Me" for Mott the Hoople, some stuff for Don and Dewey, played on some Phil Spector records, and I'm pretty sure he was in some group.
Winning Congress is the whole ball of wax, and if left wingers (and for that matter, neo-libs like me) are expected to support Bob Casey, more moderate Democrats must provide support in kind to those on the left end who have a real shot of beating a Republican. In that spirit, I actually attended one of Hall’s fund-raising concerts (featuring Hall himself, Jackson Browne, Roseanne Cash, Steve Earle and Nancy Griffith), which, I’m sad to report, was wrist slitting boring to the max. There was nary an upbeat song by anyone but Earle, even though this crew produced such winners as "Doctor My Eyes", "My Redneck Friend" and "My Baby Thinks He's a Train". Hell, left-wing rock has produced hard charging winners by the Clash, Neil Young, Springsteen and Little Steven, whose "I am a Patriot", done by Browne, with the others joining in (Cash reading the words off a sheet of paper) was one of the rare times I woke up. But, except for Earle, no one on the bill caught on to this essential point. The nadir was a "Can You Top This" competition to see who could do the most maudlin song about their dead mother. In the words of the unfairly forgotten Tonio K., "Yes I wish I was as mellow/As for instance Jackson Browne/But "Fountain of Sorrow" my ass motherfucker/I hope you wind up in the ground". I would amend that; I hope Hall winds up in Congress, which would have the twin virtues of ensuring higher quality performance in both the halls of government and the world of pop music.
State Senate: Earlier this fall, I made a promise to dedicate my pre-election columns to an unrelenting partisan assault on the Republicans, even directly making an appeal for dirt I could use to help accomplish my started goals, which included the retirement of Joe Bruno from the chair he occupies as one of the "Three Men in a Room". I even attempted sub-rosa contact with the Senate Democrats looking for access to their files on Republican targets, to no avail, possibly because I was deemed a "loose cannon" (where could they have gotten this impression?); possibly because such files didn’t exist. Sigh!
Anyway, despite being dissed (Could it be because of my David Paterson jokes? My Eric Schniederman jokes? My Malcolm Smith jokes?), I am still committed to "La Causa". So, take the advice of the "New York Times", and vote for the Democrat for State Senate, even if they are a wacko like Long Island’s Casilda Roper-Simpson. If nothing else, a disproportionate vote cast for Democrats, when weighed against the actual number of seats won, will shine a light on the egregiously outrageous gerrymandering by the Republican Party of the State’s senate districts. The Senate is the weakest link in Albany’s repugnant Bi-Partisan Iron Triangle; that link needs to be broken.
Too bad though the Times won’t take its own advice in the one place it would count the most. NICK SPANO?!? How can these guys get that even Christopher Shays must be dumped in the service of the greater good, but miss the point in Westchester? A quote in today’s Post spells it out best, "The Westchester race is a test case for Bruno vs. Spitzer as well as the system of old-time politics, where the unions and the Working Families Party play the Republicans against the Democrats for their own interests". The vehicle for accomplishing this mission is named Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who has some virtues of her own, but whose victory would be a moral imperative regardless of her own personal qualities.
In the City, the best shot of picking up a Senate seat comes in the district in which the Democrats are weakest, the Staten Island seat currently held by John Marchi. Thanks to the national tide, the Spitzer tsunami, and a Republican/Conservative split, Democrat Matt Titone has a fighting shot (albeit a long one). Good luck Matt!
Theoretically, lightning may also strike for Nora Marino in Frank Padavan’s district in Queens; here’s hoping it does (her election might also accomplish the neat trick of getting some legislators to stop staring at interns).
In Serph Maltese’s race, he faces Democrat Al Baldeo, who, during a run for City Council, was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on his opponent’s wife; the most remarkable thing is that the certifiably nutcase incumbent, Allan Jennings, was not involved in the incident. In fairness, the charges were later dismissed, and Baldeo went on to run third. In further fairness, one can be sure that Serph would zealously advocate for Baldeo’s right to keep, bear, and recklessly misuse armaments of any kind, as long as they were not aimed at a stem cell. I do not know which is worse, Maltese’s record as a far right reactionary, or his exemplification of the City’s Senate Republican record of being penny-wise and pound foolish. He readily packs his schools with member items, while signing onto funding formulas which weaken our entire school system, including the schools in his own district. Serph’s solution is always to apply a localized band-aid to a gangrenous wound, which in the end gives his constituents the appearance of special VIP service, while exacerbating their problems. But, while Baldeo would certainly be an improvement, and I endorse him with all guns blazing, saying "let’s give him a shot", one wonders why a stronger opponent could not be found in this year of all years.
But, even Baldeo beats the loser the Dems have run against Marty Golden in Brooklyn: NOBODY. Yes, NOBODY will cut your taxes, NOBODY will stand up to a the Albany Bi-Partisan Iron Triangle, NOBODY will ensure the City gets its fair share. Whatever. What’s especially galling here is that there are rumors that there was active intervention by prominent Democrats to ensure that NOBODY ran against Marty Golden. If these rumors are true, for shame!
Also of note in the City is the effort by the Republican’s to reclaim Guy Vellella’s old Senate Seat from Jeff Klein by running a candidate who is extremely likely to follow in Guy’s footsteps...right into Riker’s Island (conveniently located in the district to boost its population without boosting its number of Democratic voters).
Most of the real action is in the Suburbs. On Long Island, I did my part For Jimmy Dahroug (against Caesar Trunzo) by pushing the WFP into his corner; hopefully this will tip the balance in Dahroug’s favor. Notice should also be paid to THE TRULY REMARKABLE BROOKE ELLISON (running against John Flanagan); here’s a truly tasteless, politically incorrect, hope that she rolls over her opposition! In Westchester, Michael Kaplowitz (running against Vincent Leibell) also bears mention. LATE CORRECTION: Like many in the Suffolk Democratic establishment, I nearly forgot James McDonald (running against Owen Johnson); any Senate challenger who's attracted the attention of the Times deserves a shout-out and a high five.
Assembly: "The Times" advocates a symbolic vote against all Democrats (with limited exceptions, although they could only think of Pete Grannis themselves). I understand the sentiment, and certainly, it could be argued that Eliot Spitzer might actually prefer that Shelly Silver not hold his current veto-proof majority.
Nonetheless, I have a number of problems with this advice. The most important is that while the Assembly Republican Conference serve little legislative purpose, it is used by the Senate Republicans as a successful breeding ground for the candidates they later inflict upon the body politic (by contrast, in recent years, the Assembly Democratic conference has actually provided more Senate candidates to the Republicans than to the Democrats). We desperately need to eradicate the infestation of Senate Republicans in areas in which the Democrats should be capable of winning their seats, and that means we must decimate their breeding grounds. In those areas where, under the right circumstances, a Democrat can theoretically win election to the Senate, we must do our best to defeat any Republican assembly candidates, at least until the Dems finally attain their Senate majority. At a minimum, that means one should vote Democratic for Assembly, wherever possible (in some places they don’t have a candidate) in every district in the City, Long Island, and Westchester, Rockland and Monroe Counties. This also means voting for, at the very least, Janele Hyer-Spencer in Staten Island/Brooklyn (another potential part of the intern-protection program), Shelly Mayer in Westchester (running against a Spano; they breed like locusts) and Ellen Jaffe in Rockland.
Outside of those areas, I guess it might be safe to cast a protest vote for a Republican candidate for the Assembly, but given what they stand for, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend any who might actually merit support.
BTW, Republican-Conservative Gordon Jelks is the only candidate running against Diane Gordon in the 40th AD.
Query: where is his Rock Hackshaw endorsement?
Judges: In Manhattan’s 7th Municipal Court District (Washington Heights and Inwood), through what seem to have been intrigues which would have shamed the Borgias, but seem of little concern to Democratic State and County Leader Denny "David Niven" Farrell, even though they occurred in his own backyard, the Democratic line contains only one candidate for two seats. This leaves independently nominated Kelly O’Neill Levy (whose name, a half century ago, would have been the area’s perfect balanced ticket all by itself) facing Shari Michels, most noteworthy as daughter of Former Councilman Stanley.
It must gall Stanley that former colleagues he regards as his intellectual inferiors, like Carolyn Maloney, now occupy seats in Congress, while he no longer even has the drag sufficient to pull the strings necessary to get his daughter past a Democratic Party Judicial Screening Panel. But, it must especially gall him to have his daughter’s opponent endorsed by Borough President Scott Stinger. "I beat that pisher’s mother for the Council; it took me two times to do it, I thought I finished the job, but now her family comes back like a golem to do my loved ones harm." Stan probably should have forgone the race for Beep against Scott, and maybe all would have been forgiven (except possibly that rumored hookup in the Hamptons years ago between members of each family).
In Queens 2nd Municipal Court District, the unopposed candidate is Leslie Purificacion. Query: Since the death of Learned Hand, has there ever been a better name for a judge?
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