Hugh Reynolds: Frack on, Joel Tyner?

Is it time for Tyner, as congressional hopeful Joel Tyner of Rhinebeck so fervently hopes? Not yet, if history is a teacher. It took Tyner five elections before he won a seat in the Dutchess legislature. If it takes five tries to get to Congress, he’ll be around 98, but no doubt feisty as ever.

Tyner is not exactly a household name in these parts, but then neither is the presumed favorite in next month’s Democratic primary for Congress, low-profile Julian Schreibman. Schreibman was Ulster County Democratic chairman for a couple of years, ending in January when he announced his candidacy, but in terms of name recognition is hardly on a par with Demo icons Maurice, Mike and Kevin. (Icons don’t need last names.)

By any fair assessment, other than Tyner’s, Schreibman has to be considered the favorite. A Yale-educated former prosecutor, Schreibman displayed fund-raising ability after generating over $200,000 in contributions (half from his own pocket) over the winter, while Tyner says he raised something like $15,000. Were Tyner running for re-election for county legislator from a semi-rural district in Northern Dutchess, 15 large would be impressive. But this ain’t Kansas, Toto.


Tyner’s call for a series of debates in each of the 11 counties in the new congressional district has fallen on deaf ears. Conventional wisdom suggests frontrunners do not provide forums for longshots.

Schreibman needs to be careful. In effect, Democrats have a choice between two unknowns for an open seat. Turnout under those conditions will probably range between abysmal and low. With only a handful of Democrats at the polls come June 26, either candidate could win.

Tyner, far savvier than some of his rambling rants might suggest, appreciates the opportunity. If there is a viable Tyner strategy, other than begging for free press all the time, it’s hooking his wagon to the anti-fracking movement. Say what you may about Tyner, a self-proclaimed 99 percenter, he knows enough to push a hot-button issue when he sees one. And nothing is hotter these days than the controversy over hydraulic fracking for natural gas.

Anti-frackers are pretty well organized. Last month, more than 300 turned out to shake their fists at officialdom at a public hearing by the Ulster County legislature. There are pockets of dissent all over the Catskills. And it is at least even money that a majority of these anti-frackers are voting Democrats.

Schreibman seems to be coming around to the realization that this relatively small, loudly vocal anti-establishment group could tip the balance. While his initial statements on fracking were, well, bland, much like the candidate, of late he’s gotten his Tyner on. For Schreibman the problem is Tyner got there first.

If Tyner can recruit this highly motivated constituency, what is perceived by some as a looming gap could shrink considerably over the next month or so.

Conventional wisdom

If Schreibman is acting as though his opponent doesn’t exist, state Senate hopeful George Amedore is running like he’s practically elected.

There are 4 comments

  1. Leslie Gabriel

    Who is this guy Julian?

    A bland republican lite, that’s who – a republican lite that worked for the CIA – the organisation that was tapping people’s phones and is currently breaking US and international law escalating drone warfare all around the world.

    Did I mention that the CIA tortured people?

    Joel Tyner has been fighting for regular people like you and me. Fighting for clean water and an end to fracking, fighting for tax fairness, fighting for holding the financial banksters accountable for the economic mess they created.

    Joel Tyner may be underfunded … but that is what insurgent campaigns are all about.

    Make no mistake, there is a choice here. A choice between a do nothing top down candidate and the effective, progressive powerhouse Joel Tyner.

    It ain’t about the money honey, its about the heart and passion. Joel Tyner is the man for our times.

  2. gberke

    I think Hugh doesn’t really care who wins… he just likes to call the race. That’s not interesting except to other people who make their living on betting. There is the whole field of 1) who would be better for the district, the country and 2) doing a little something to help that along.

  3. nopolitics

    Nina’s neo-smile is too big and unequivocal. She needs to capitalize on her Mona Lisa-like appearance of old, I think.
    Or, perhaps put a huge big smile of her on the 18th hole at some local miniature golf place, whence the golf ball enters between her upper teeth and lower teeth a recording in her own voice yells, “Thank you for keeping DMV dollars in Ulster County!”

  4. Sam Pratt

    Rhetorical excess seems to have stunted Mr. Reynold’s ability to do basic math here. Tyner is a young man… and Congressional elections happen every two years. 2 x 5 = 10 years, which would not put Tyner in his late 90s.

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