Ryan’s Hope (NYC 2011 General Election Voters’ Guide)

If you live in NYC, unless you are an election inspector and have to spend 15 hours at a polling place, or you are a public employee who has Election Day off in their contract, you probably don’t know there’s election this coming Tuesday.

And you have little reason to care.

By contrast, if you are a candidate on Tuesday, you probably do know, but don’t care, since, with one exception, you are either literally unopposed or virtually so.

Take Manhattan.

There are five Supreme Court slots. The Democrats have nominated five candidates; the Republicans one.  

Unfortunately, for fans of democracy, the one GOP candidate is one of the Democrats.

For the two Countywide Civil Court seats, two Democrats are running unopposed.

Six Municipal Court Districts in Manhattan also have races. In three, Democrats are running unopposed for a single slot. In one, two Democrats are running unopposed for two slots. In two, the Republicans have also nominated a candidate, but it is the Democrat.  

The Bronx features a three way race for DA between Robert Johnson, the Democrat, Robert Johnson, the Republican, and Robert Johnson, the Conservative.

Anymore Robert Johnson and they could hold a blues festival.

It’s enough to cause ramblin’ on my mind.

By contrast, Brooklyn is a veritable smorgasbord.

In the race for Supreme Court there are eight, count ‘em eight, candidates for six seats. Four candidates (including outstanding incumbents David Friedman and Betsy Barros) are nominated by all three parties who bothered doing nominations, leaving two candidates, Democrat-Republicans (and Gatemouth favorites) Lawrence Knipel and Rachel Amy Adams facing two Conservatives, one of whom is such a hack of such monumental proportions, his very presence on the ballot could convince Chris Owens and Lincoln Restler to cast a vote for Carl Landicino.  

I should note I have no objection to all parties cross-endorsing competent incumbents (though the Conservatives shamefully failed to endorse Knipel), but why could the GOP not bring themselves to run someone for the three open seats?  

For Civil Court, two Democrats face two Republican-Conservatives, one of whom (Joseph Elhilow), is actually spending some money and making some effort. Good for him!

Gatemouth commends Elhilow, while endorsing the Democrats (especially another Gatemouth favorite, incumbent Peter Sweeney).   

Queens is even more fun, as in the race for Supreme, six Democrats face six Republican-Conservatives.

This outstanding menu of choices is spoiled only by a three way race for DA featuring only one candidate, and a race for City Council in which Councilman Ruben “Plea Bargain” Wills (he’s no bargain otherwise) is being allowed to continue serving his onerous sentence of community service by facing solitary confinement in the dreaded “box.” By which I mean, his is the solitary name one will on the ballot box.    

Leave it to Staten Island to break the mold.

In the only County where a judicial race would be a real contest, Joseph Maltese, an acting Supreme Court Justice from the Court of Claims, does not have the three party support we see in the other Boroughs.

He has the support of FOUR parties (a notorious workaholic, Maltese might actually deserve it).

On the other hand, there is an actual contested race for District Attorney.  

Incumbent Dan Donovan, last year’s statewide Republican-Conservative-Independence candidate for Attorney General, faces a rematch with his 2007 opponent, Mike Ryan.  

Despite the fervent Conservative Party support for Donovan last year, the local Conservatives have dropped him in favor of Ryan, mostly because of spite between Donovan and his former employer, Borough President James Molinaro, who controls the local Conservatives.

This is not a fight about ideology. Though Donovan is only a moderately reactionary Republican, capable of moments of decency, Molinaro’s problem is not Donovan’s moderation.  

By any reasonable definition, Donovan is more conservative than Ryan.

But, Molinaro could care less about ideology; in fact, he could care less about anything but patronage, who kisses his ring, and how his relatives’ arrests are handled.

Last time out, Donovan beat Ryan by better than 2 to 1, but last time out, Donovan had the Conservative line.

If Ryan had the votes cast for DA on the Conservative line, it would have been a 56-44 race.

Actually, it would have been better than that. If Ryan had had the Conservative line, he would have been taken more seriously, and could have mounted a better race.

And that is what is happening now.

This would all be good reason for supporting Donovan, except for one thing.

The merits.

The circumstances of my life once gave me the unpleasant opportunity to undergo a lengthy personal observation of Donovan’s office, and it is my considered opinion that Donovan does not seem to run a good shop. In fact, I call him "The Sheriff of Mayberry."

In particular, I think Donovan has put a low priority on such matters as domestic violence.

By contrast, Ryan, a Former NYC Criminal Justice Coordinator, brings the hope of a more professional operation.

He's also pretty universally acknowledged as a really decent guy.

Sadly, this race hasn’t really been run on an elevated level.

As of late, the big issue has been Ron Kuby.

Kuby is the type of lefty beloved of far right talk radio. They give him a platform for the same reason the Wall Street Journal used to give one to Alexander Cockburn.

To embarrass the left.

When Kuby’s right-wing counterpart, Curtis Sliwa (who subtracts from the sum total of the world’s knowledge every time he opens his mouth) endorsed Donovan, Kuby followed suit.

And when a candidate can gather the endorsement from the full ideological range of New York’s most flatulent gasbags, that is one more reason to support the opposition. 

But, despite my distaste for Kuby, I must also make clear my distaste for the Kuby-baiting Ryan is doing on Donovan.

But, it is Staten Island, and as such, par for the course. To expect better of any Staten Island pol, even a decent one (at least outside the north shore) is probably just naïve.

More, importantly, Ryan clearly seems to be the better candidate.