Tomorrow is Federal primary election day in New York State. In terms of administrative cost per ballot cast, it will be an expensive exercise. The turnout rate among eligible voters will surely be low, and abstention in many cases makes sense. It makes sense so many decisions have already been made. Formally speaking, Democrats and Republicans will be nominating candidates for United States Senator and for U.S. Representative from each of the State's 31 congressional district.
But in the majority of cases, the decision has already been made. Thus, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is assured of the Democratic Senatorial nomination, because nobody has filed a challenge. And in 14 of the 31 of the congressional districts, there is an intra-party nomination contest only on the Democratic or the Republican side, but not both.
From the standpoint of GreeneLand Republican and Democratic voters, respectively, there is one intra-party contest to be decided at tomorrow's primary.
THE SENATE RACE
Three Republicans are vying for the opportunity to try to
oust Ms Gillibrand from the U.S. Senate. Ms Gilliband has held the seat since January 2009, first by
gubernatorial appointment (to replace Hillary Clinton
, who resigned in order to
become President Barak Obama
’s secretary of state), then by special election in
November 2010 (for the right to complete the Clinton term). Now she is uncontested for the
Democratic nomination and
Families Party and Independence Party nominations, to win a full six-year
term. She has amassed a big war
chest, has not been obliged to spend any of it in primary election contests,
shines in opinion polls, and is running in a strongly Democratic
Vying for the right to be Senator Gillibrand's Republican challenger are, in alphabetical order, Wendy Long, George Maragos and Bob
Turner. For information about those candidates, see biographical
information on Wikipedia. For the way they choose to present themselves (and each
other, and the meaning of the 2012 election), see their campaign websites: www.wendylongfornewyork.com , www.maragos4ny.com and www.turnerforny.com.
All three candidates profess to be “conservative” and all
eschew the labels “moderate” and “centrist” (among others). They differ, however, in what
they designate as priorities. Mr
Maragos and Mr Turner give primary attention, initially, to jobs and economic
recovery. That orientation (as
distinct from ObamaCare, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion,
socialism, left-wing radicalism, getting our country back, saving our national
soul) seems to be the basis for distinguishing candidates who are moderates
conservative from candidates who are “conservative.”
Mr Maragos (accent on first syllable) is comptroller of
Nassau County, serving a second term after upsetting an incumbent. He offers the special attraction of
being an immigrant. He was born in
Greece, went to Canada with his family, graduated from McGill University, and
launched a career in business management and finance that brought him and his
family permanently to America.
Mr Turner is completing his first term as a member of the
U.S. House of Representatives.
After a rather illustrious career in advertising and television
programming, he won that office by way of a special election in a
preponderantly Democratic district in Queens. His previous career was in television programming and
advertising. He is subject to
suspicion of being a closeted moderate.
One piece of evidence: refusal to join most Republican House members in
signing the notorious Grover Norquist pledge to actively oppose, in all
circumstances, any and all tax increases.
Ms Long qualifies to be ranked as the most “conservative”
contender for the Republican nomination.
She is the endorsed Conservative Party candidate (and thus will appear
on the ballot even if she does not get the Republican nomination). She is endorsed by putatively conservative icons Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, John Bolton, Norquist
and Steve Forbes. She opines (on
National Review Online) that the impending national election imposes a choice
“between two radically different paths.
The solvency of the federal government, the future of free enterprise,
the security of our people and the very character of out nation are all in the
balance….” Her interest in winning
public office can be viewed as a natural concomitant of her work as a lawyer,
as a judges’ law clerk, and then as founder of a pressure group, the Judicial
Confirmation Network (later the Judicial Crisis Network) that is devoted to
ensuring that authentic “conservatives” get appointed to high judicial
office. Supreme Court judge Clarence
Thomas, she declares, is one of America’s
“greatest living judges.”
From the standpoint of entertainment, a general election
battle between Ms Long and Senator Gillibrand might offer the liveliest spectacle best value. Those two candidates share not only a
gender, but also a similar background: both are lawyers with strong
accomplishments, both are poised and articulate speakers, and both graduated
from Dartmouth College (in 1982 for Stone, 1988 for Gillibrand).
From the competitive Democratic standpoint, the ideal result
of Tuesday’s primary on the Republican side probably would be the nomination of Mr
Maragos or Mr Turner.
Ms Long would still appear on the general election ballot,
as the Conservative standard –bearer.
That arrangement would split the ranks of anti-Democratic,
THE HOUSE RACE
For GreeneLand Democrats, Tuesday’s primary offers
a choice between two contestants for the right to be the party’s nominee for
election to the U.S. House of Representatives: Julian Schreibman of Ulster County and Joel Tyner of Dutchess
County. The winner of that contest
will be pitted in November against Christopher Gibson, the Republican (and
Independence Party) nominee (via the absence of an intra-party challenge) who
is the quasi-incumbent.
Representative Gibson presently holds the seat that is identified as the
State’s 20th congressional district. He won that seat in November 2010, unseating the one-term
Democratic incumbent, Scott Murphy,who had succeeded the one-term
representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, who had wrested the seat from a previously
entrenched Republican). After the
2010 election, however, the boundaries of all congressional districts in New
York were redrawn (by the State Assembly, in keeping with legal
requirement). Greene County had been
part of the 20th district. Now it is part of the 19th.
Participation by Democrats in Tuesday’s 19th
district primary election makes sense, as a practical matter, if the choice
between prospective challengers to Mr Gibson is competitively consequential. The choice is consequential if the seat
can be deemed winnable, and if one would-be nominee stands a better chance of
On the former question, the most solid basis for a positive
estimate is the fact that the new 19th district contains a bigger
proportion of Democrats than the old 20th district. Encompassing the new district are six
counties and portions of three other counties. One of those counties--not part of the old 20th
district--is Ulster. Democrats
there out-number Republicans, and independents have joined them in giving strong support to long-serving Democratic Representative Maurice
Hinchey (who is retiring). In the
old 20th district, registered Republicans out-numbered Democrats by
a margin of 50,033. In the new 19th
district, thanks largely to the inclusion of Ulster County, the Republican
numerical edge is only 5634 (153,492 to 147,858). Meanwhile, as reported by the State’s Board of Elections,
26,591 residents of the 19th district are registered as Independence
Party adherents, 11,330 as Conservatives, 2308 as Working Families Party
members, 1670 as Greens, and 121,380 (!) as un-partisans.
Those enrollment figures provided one of two considerations
prompting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington to add
New York’s 19th district to its roster of Republican-held seats that
could be rated plausibly as prospects, with appropriate infusion of resources,
for Democratic takeover. The other consideration that prompted that “Red to
Blue” judgment was the availability of a seemingly viable candidate: Julian
On the matter of viability, Mr Schreibman presented to the
DCCC, and later to the public, evidence of strong local support (financial and
otherwise), of past involvement in Democratic campaigns, and of an attractive
Mr Schreibman, 39, is the son of a couple who ran a small
Kingston business, He was
first in his family to go to college, thanks to loans and part-time work. His college, and his subsequent law
school, was Yale. His professional
career includes stints as a Federal Government lawyer (for the Central
Intelligence Agency), as Special Assistant to the district attorney of Ulster
County, and as partner in a private law firm. Politically, he has been active
in Democratic campaigns and won election as chairman of Ulster County’s
origins. He lives with his
mother. He graduated from
Rhinecliffe High School and then from SUNY New Paltz. He works intermittently as a substitute teacher. Politically, he has won four terms as a
Dutchess County legislator from a Republican-leaning district. That electoral record is all the more
remarkable in view of the fact that Mr Tyner presents himself as a staunch
“progressive.” His roadside signs
proclaim allegiance to the so-called Occupy movement (“We are the 99%”), as
well as giving special prominence to condemning hydrofracking. His activities, however, have not
attracted strong support from fellow Dutchess co-partisans. The county’s Democratic committee has
endorsed Mr Schreibman. So have
the party organizations in Greene, Columbia, Sullivan, Rensselaer and Ulster
counties, along with numerous other organizations and noteworthy individuals,
including the revered Representative Hinchey.
Mr Schreibman’s success in picking up endorsements around
the 19th district stems in no small measure from showing up. By way of contrast, again, Mr Tyner has made few appearances away from home. There have been no campaign mailings
from Mr Tyner to 19th district Democrats. From Mr Schreibman there have been five. Some of them dwell on what he promises
to do, or to better than the Republican incumbent, namely,
*Protect Medicare and Social Security
small businesses and family farms.
in infrastructure and rural broadband
protect our air and water
up to the Republican extremists who are slashing funding for women’s health.
end the giveaways to Big Oil and to make our tax laws more fair so that
millionaires pay their fair share.
This disparity in campaign activity can be ascribed partly
to the disparity in resources. Mr Tyner’s campaign visibility has consisted
largely of those roadside “We are the 99%” signs. His camp also put out an anonymous automated opinion survey,
asking respondents whether they prefer a “legislator and progressive activist”
over a “C.I.A. lawyer and party boss.” And folk singer Pete Seeger recorded an endorsement. Then there was last week’s colloquy in New Paltz
between the candidates—their only direct encounter. According to Press reports, differences in policy stands did
not come to the fore, but the two speakers differed in “tone.” Mr Tyner made “sharp attacks” on Mr
Schreibman and on the moderator.
This contributed to the warmer applause bestowed on Mr Schreibman. It
also prompted Mr Tyner’s treasurer, next day, to quit his campaign, and to do so in a
dramatic way. In statements to the
Press, Mischa Fredericks accused Mr
Tyner of failing persistently to record outlays properly. And she finally took that step, she
said, because of Mr Tyner’s “atrocious,” “horrendous” conduct during the New
Paltz encounter. To that blast Mr
Tyner responded that Ms Fredericks must be an enemy “plant.” He also accused her of sexual
P.S. Contrary to rumor, the two candidates do not disagree on "fracking." Both are opposed. Mr Schreibman voiced his opposition clearly at the New Paltz encounter and at a recent Catskill gathering. In his words, "bad for the environment; bad for the economy."