Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Yorkers Go To Primary Polls

Today's primary election day in New York, and there are several races to keep an eye upon. There's the race for the NY-15 seat, currently held by the despicable Charles Rangel. He's running against Adam Clayton Powell IV, whose father lost to Rangel in 1970. Powell's father had his own ethics and legal troubles that led to Rangel upsetting Powell in 1970, and now Rangel has tax and legal woes of his own. Despite this, expect Rangel to pull through with a win today, which all but guarantees that he'll be representing Harlem again in 2011 barring Congress acting to kick him out of Congress on multiple ethics charges.

Meanwhile, the other big race to watch is the GOP race for governor, pitting Rick Lazio against Carl Paladino. Both are lamentable choices, and neither has much of a chance against Andrew Cuomo in November, but Lazio is the slightly better option given that Paladino is simply a nutcase who has shown himself to be a racist and bigot.

There's a 5-way battle among Democrats to replace Andrew Cuomo as attorney general, but there are no standouts among them. The other statewide races are for the US Senate, and neither Chuck Schumer or Kristen Gillibrand face serious opposition.

So why do I think that Rangel will win? How about that despite all the anger and frustration with incumbents, light turnout is expected once again. Moreover, voters across the region and the nation are disappointed, angry, and hopeless with the political options being presented.
“All they’re doing is musical chairs,” Michael Alton, 59, a registered Democrat, said Monday as he walked his dog along Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx. “There’s no reason to vote. State government isn’t up to the challenge.”

Unlike past election years, this one has genuinely competitive primaries. On the Republican side, there is a fierce battle between former Representative Rick A. Lazio and Carl P. Paladino, a wealthy real estate developer from Buffalo, for the party’s nomination for governor. Democrats have five choices for attorney general. Incumbent lawmakers of both parties face tough races from Long Island to the Hudson Valley to Buffalo.

Yet many voters say that for all the energy and money that have gone into those campaigns, and despite the millions spent on campaign advertisements and direct mailings, they are unwilling to invest themselves in the races.

“If you start a new job,” said Minphay Chiou, a mother of two from Manhattan, “you hope you’ll have a great workplace and a great boss. But you can’t really learn much from a job interview. It’s the same with the candidates. They are interviewing with us, but who knows what we’ll see when they get there?” When it comes to Albany, Ms. Chiou said, “the people in my life feel there’s not much they can do.”

For Democrats, such emotions might reflect the fact that their party has controlled state government for the past two years, yet property taxes are still crushing and jobs scarce.

Andrew M. Cuomo, who has earned high approval ratings for his performance as the state’s attorney general and is the unchallenged Democratic candidate for governor, inspires in some voters fond wishes rather than actual hope.
Despite the Times' spin, the number of competitive primary elections is quite limited - and of the statewide races, only the GOP governors race and the Democrats race for attorney general are open questions. The other statewide races are dominated by the incumbents. Even then, Cuomo is currently polling better than either Lazio or Paladino by significant margins, meaning that the race isn't all that meaningful except to figure out which faction may dominate among the GOP between now and 2012.

Few of the candidates are actually standing out because of their position to deal with the state's crushing debt, pension obligations, fiscal irresponsibility, or how to deal with the mess in Albany. Instead, the chief issue leading up to the primary was about the Cordoba House proposal near Ground Zero which may shed light on values, but not necessarily on whether the candidate is capable of leading the state.

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