Gatemouth Abandons Ship (The Races for the State Legislature)

For a long time, one of the central themes of this department was that the Albany Bi-Partisan Iron Triangle needed to be destroyed.

The theory outlined in the three linked pieces attached in this paragraph was that the Democrats were no day at the beach, but that one party government would finally ensure some accountability.

Four years ago, in happier times, I wrote the following in my General Election Endorsement piece:

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 Schneiderman 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…

ASSEMBLY: …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.

In 2008, in a monent I waited, hoped and worked for all of my life in politics, the Democrats finally took to the State Senate, The full story of what followed was long and highly unpleasant., including a month long crisis where the State Legislature was completely paralyzed. And at nearly every point in what followed, the Democrats gave into extortion in order to keep power.

And the tem “power” is one I use loosely. For whether it came to enacting reforms, saving the MTA or passing same sex marriage, the State Senate Democrats could not manage to use their “power” for any purpose other than to keep holding that “power.” This assessment turned out to be wrong. Rather than being think inside the box Albany hacks, the Senate Democrats were a highly creative bunch who spent their time developing a series for Martin Scorsese called ”Racetrack Empire“.  

I do not know, or even care if the actions of Senators John "Nucky" Sampson, Malcolm Smith and Eric Adams were criminal, for they are disgraceful in any event.

I cannot, in good conscience, any longer call for a blanket vote for the election of Democrats in every State Senate district.

That being said, it is important to remember that in almost every instance of failure not related to racetracks, there is a party just as guilty as virtually any Democrat, and usually even more so, and that is the leader of the Senate Republicans, Dean Skelos.

The State Senate Democrats' efforts at insitutional reform were and are pathetic, but they were and are still an improvement over the way the senate was run under the leadership of Skelos. There is no reason to think he's do any better given another chance.   

Further, Skelos was willing to give into extortionists to gain power, he was willing to paralyze the State to keep power, and he ultimately rejected bi-partisan power sharing as a solution to the mess he‘d gotten us into. Unwilling to share power, he ended up with none of it, which was surely an appropriate sentence he deserves to keep serving.

In the matter of the MTA, the State Senate Democrats were riven by faction, and could not muster the votes for any plan; but they needed every vote they had because of Dean Skelos. Because of the Democrats’ continued factionalism, Skelos controls more votes in the Senate than anyone else. Yet he would not support any plan, or propose one of his own, even though he needed to attract only two Democratic votes to pass one.

On the issue of same sex marriage, it is well known that Conservative party leader Mike Long had told Dean Skelos that any Republican who supported same-sex marriage would be denied the Conservative line, and that if the bill managed to pass because of Republican votes, all the Senate Republicans would be denied the line.

So, in the same manner he gave into Pedro Espada’s extortion, Dean Skelos gave into Mike Long’s blackmail. Every Senate Republican, including the two who are in the closet, voted against same sex marriage under Skelos’ orders.

If the Democrats deserve to lose control of the State Senate, then the Republicans do not deserve to get that control back. Even on the issue of not robbing the State blind, the recent record of the State Senate Republicans does not inspire confidence.

One can't even justify supporting the Senate Republican on the basis of fiscal sanity, since their normal modis operandi is to outbid the opposition. Say 1199 to dean Seklos and he'll say 1200.

So, there remains no choice but to judge races on the individual candidates rather than the Party. Mostly, I find this means that in any race which is really a contest, I still prefer the Democrat. For instance, in the City, I support challenger Tony Avella in eastern Queens against reactionary Republican Frank Padavan and newcomer Mike DiSanto in southern Brooklyn against reactionary hypocrite Marty Golden. .

Outside the City, such Democratic challenger as Mike Kaplowitz, Susan Savage, David Carlucci, Mary Wilmot, Joanne Yepsen, Cynthia Appleton , Kathleen Joy, Robin Wilt, and Didi Barrett are all worth a vote, as are endangered incumbents Craig Johnson, Brian Foley and David Valesky.

Wilmot deserves special mention, as the man she is challenging, Jim Alessi, stood and could barely hold back his little girl tears before he cast a cowardly Skelos-dictated vote against same sex marriage.

Here’s hoping Alessi gets a better reason to cry.

But I think punishment also needs to be dealt out on the other side of the aisle.

For instance, I will not here print the name of the one State Senate Democrat in the City who is endangered in the present election, because of his vote against same-sex marriage, (even though, truth be told, I would gladly vote for him against his reactionary Republican opponent, whose position on the issue is even worse).

More importantly, some people need to be slapped.

Therefore Gatemouth endorses Conservative Party candidates Michael Walters and Avrahom Rosenberg against amigos Ruben Diaz and Carl Kruger. These Conservatives at least afford the voters truth in labeling.

Those who want to extend such anathema further are duly advised that Sampson, Smith and Adams all have Republican opponents, as does, Kevin Parker, another embarrassment.. The only thing that restrains me from making such endorsements myself is the slim chance this it might in some way help Dean Skelos.

Moving on to the other house, four years ago, I said:

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…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.

Well, Andrew Cuomo would agree with Spitzer, and in these time, I see no advantage in Shelly getting his two thirds.

A traitor-proof Democratic majority is good enough for me, and Shelly will have that regardless, but if a liberal Democratic governor finds some program too expensive under the current circumstances, my inclination is to assume he’s right.

Moreover, I no longer see good reason for blind endorsements in Assembly races in order to help the State Senate Democrats. They’ve not earned such an indulgence.

However, that being said, I’m still hard-pressed to recommend Assembly Republican candidates who actually merit support.

But, this year, I’ve found a few.

Incumbents Teresa Sayward, Janet Duprey and Joel Miller courageously stood up along with the sainted Dede Scozzafava and voted to allow same sex civil marriage in New York State.

Miller, who sparred with Dov Hikind during the debate is a personal favorite.

Sayward, Duprey and Miller all get the Gatemouth seal of approval.

In addition Gatemouth endorses two Republicans based not on their own qualities, but rather on those of their opponents; Brian Doherty against Dov Hikind and Kenneth Waluyn against Inez Barron (after all, one good turncoat deserves another).

I’m sure there are a few other, In Queens, Errol Lewis seems to like Vince Tambone against lobbyist Brian Meara’s nephew Edward Braunstein; as some may have noticed, I frequently disagreed with Errol, but I‘m sure he would not recommend the normal sort of run of the mill Republican troglodyte, so Tambone is probably worth at least considering.

In closing, let me make clear that I am still a moderately liberal Democrat, who is skeptical of mindless calls for bi-partisanship, but sometimes, in times such as these, the circumstances call for a little boat rocking.

And, as skeptics may have notice, a little boat rocking is all that I’ve called for.

Just don’t blame me if the State Senate goes Republican. The State Senate’s Democratic Leadership broke its leg at Aqueduct; it may be time for it to take a trip to the glue factory.