Hugh Reynolds: The morning after

The mood was befuddled at the county Dems’ gathering at Ole Savannah Tuesday night. (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

The mood was befuddled at the county Dems’ gathering at Ole Savannah Tuesday night. (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Wow. Who knew? At 10 p.m. Tuesday night they said Donald Trump had to run the table to have any chance. Two hours later, it was Hillary Clinton’s turn.

Who knew? Obviously, it wasn’t pollsters or talking heads. A major-party candidate insults vast swatches of the electorate and wins? Did we elect Don Rickles? Oh, to be a fly on the wall when the president and the president-elect sit down at the White House on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, back home.

Zephyr Teachout fizzled, so did Sara Niccoli. The other Sara (McGinty) split the opposition. Old man river Bill Larkin will be back for two more years, maybe half a dozen. Kevin Cahill seems invincible. Chuck Schumer will have to wait at least another two years for that brass ring. A postcard-sized flyer persuaded thousands to vote for something most knew little about.

Turnout was terrific, and that’s never a bad thing even if the results leave half the electorate in dismay.

 

19th C.D.

The tortoise caught the hare just before the finish line. Republican John Faso wasn’t flashy and hardly the anti-woman ogre Democrat Zephyr Teachout painted him, but he got the job done. Teachout campaigned hard in Ulster, emerging with a near 10,000-vote plurality — not nearly enough to offset Faso’s northern tide. Siena’s last-minute poll showing Faso with a six-point lead was ominous for Teachout, Trump’s surge more so. Faso did his level best to avoid Trump but in the end gratefully rode his coattails.

 

46th state Senate

Teachout and Sara Niccoli, cast in the same mold, probably should have run in tandem. In any case, both needed to carry Ulster by at least 15,000. Niccoli barely beat incumbent Republican George Amedore in the district’s Democratic stronghold. Somebody at party headquarters has to answer for that.

 

Surrogate judge

Here, the Democrats’ huge majority asserted itself. Party nominee Sara McGinty’s sliver of a 136-vote victory over Republican Peter Matera would have been a landslide if the 7,600 votes would-be spoiler and Democratic primary loser Sharon Graff stayed loyal. Matera’s 35 percent showing was disappointing, to say the least, what with the Republican tide running strong in these parts. The bottom line was 65 percent voted for one Democrat or the other.

 

103rd Assembly

Kevin Cahill said the press piled on in over-reporting (in his view) his alleged “double-dipping” on travel expenses, but it mattered not one bit at the election. His three-to-one win over hapless Jack Hayes, the Conservative hopeful, was his best showing ever. Toying with Hayes, Cahill amused himself by attempting to rally the anti-courthouse vote. Big difference.

 

39th state Senate

Eighty-eight year-old Larkin may have lost a step or two, but he shows no signs of running out of gas. To the surprise of many an observer, Republican Larkin, with a late surge, ran down Democrat Chris Eachus by a decisive margin. Larkin got 63 percent of the vote in Ulster.

I’m thinking Trump coattails, but Larkin neither campaigned for himself or the top of the ticket in refusing to appear anywhere. Could this be a new strategy?

In Dutchess, Sue Serino downed Terry Gipson for the second straight time, which combined with Niccoli’s defeat in Ulster, dashed Democratic hopes of assuming the majority next year. The Independent Democratic Conference, based in the city, will again sell its votes to the highest bidder, which, since nothing’s changed, probably means the Republicans.

 

Courthouse move

Almost as many voters cast ballots on the proposal to move Family Court from Kingston to Ulster, 64,382, as voted for president in Ulster. That is to my way of thinking astonishing. That almost three out of every four voters approved the move borders on unbelievable.

By comparison, the last important county proposition — the 2006 charter vote — attracted just under 39,000 voters, who approved the proposed charter by a mere 1364-vote margin.

This was a Mike Hein production. It went off like clockwork. A week before the election the county mailed a flyer that was in every sense a partisan appeal. Calling it “informational” didn’t change that. Every campaign for better or worse is informational.

Despite the secrecy surrounding that campaign — officials wouldn’t say how much the mailing cost, who paid for it or who it went to — the flyer very quickly convinced a super-majority of voters that this was the way to go.

Cahill, with nothing much to do in his own election, launched an impromptu “save Uptown Kingston” drive. It fell on deaf ears.

Critics will continue to hound Hein as this transition moves forward. Given the proposition vote, they’ll be playing a weak hand.

 

Face time

Unlike the vast majority of our readers, I enjoy pouring over the dozen political flyers I get in the mail every week during election season. According to the Advertising Council, the “success rate” for any such flyer is only about five percent, referring to the proportion of people who bother to even read the literature.

There’s a quick and accurate way to figure out who’s zooming whom. Just look at the faces.

Me, I look for clues to campaign strategies, what one side is trying to do to the other; volume (who has the money); issues; and who sponsored the flyer. Blatant misrepresentations and outrageous innuendo are my particular favorites, shame having no place in this nefarious game. It’s all there, if you just look.

Most notable is the difference between what candidates say to and about each other at campaign stops and in the media, compared to what their surrogates put out in paid advertising.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision a few years ago not only threw open the coffers to unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns, but also allowed virtual anonymity. Candidates got cover. They’re also able to claim they had no prior knowledge of the kind of slanderous accusations being put out under their names. I, for one, do not believe that for a moment.

Most candidates are attractive people. Tall doesn’t hurt; indeed, it may be a prerequisite for high public office. When’s the last time we had a really homely, short president?

Somewhere in everybody’s pictorial history lurks an ugly image they had hoped they had hidden safely or destroyed. Campaign-brochure attack dogs can find these photos under rocks or in the darkest closets.

Sometimes they just Photoshop them off their opponent’s TV ads, like the John Faso squad did to Zephyr Teachout’s river cruise in a dinghy around the Kingston Lighthouse. Tie an awkward photo to a stinging rebuke, and presto! Campaign gold.

Photo of the year goes to surrogate judge candidate Sara McGinty. For Democrat McGinty, it’s been a long, tough slog against formidable, well-financed opposition. Like McGinty, Republican Peter Matera took the high road. Cheap shots and doctored images were not factors in this campaign. Nor would the canons of judicial ethics allow such. This photo, which appears on her last campaign flyer, depicts the happy warrior, confident, determined and unbowed. I’d like to see more of those kinds of images in campaign literature.

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