Well, the most important election in our lifetime, at least in the eyes of candidates, is about to end. We’re probably not much better off than we were four years ago. For some, slight improvement will be plenty enough. For others, time for a change.
The prospect of a few newbies, maybe a new president, a different state legislator here and there, is interesting, exciting … and troublesome. Mostly, though, we’ll get familiar faces returning to familiar problems.
According to final registration figures from the Ulster County Board of Elections, 2,500 fewer people will be eligible to go to the polls next Tuesday, compared to 2008. What happened? Population may be slightly up, but participation is down. For presidential candidates in backwaterNew York, that won’t matter much. It could matter a great deal at the local level. So let’s go there.
The mood of the electorate is always hard to judge. Based on conversations with the usual suspects and after witnessing unusually meager turnouts at fund-raising events for both parties, my conclusion is that even the movers and shakers are less engaged this year.
Despite a slightly favorable registration edge, for the past five months Democrat Julian Schreibman has been playing catch-up in terms of organization, fund-raising and name recognition with Republican incumbent Chris Gibson. Schreibman’s September primary victory over Dutchess legislator Joel Tyner — thankfully returned to the woodwork — was encouraging. Though it energized his progressive base, it didn’t much move the needle.
If Schreibman has a platform — other than relentlessly attacking Gibson’s record — it has yet to emerge. Gibson, who should have learned after 24 years in the military that one does not underestimate an opponent, may have gotten complacent, but came on strong at the end. With a good turnout from a solidly Republican home district (almost half the new congressional district) Gibson should take this one by about five points, which is where this week’s Siena poll has the race.
Weep not for Schreibman. With Gibson self-term-limited to four terms — ending with the 2016 election — the 39-year-old challenger may yet get another chance. But first he has to mend many fences back home.
As for outgoing congressman Maurice Hinchey, the election of a successor will make his retirement all but official. Not that the 20-year congressional veteran had any plans for a comeback. While some zealots may doubt it, we’ll survive without our man in Washington.
The question here is whether front-running Republican George Amedore of Rotterdam has enough juice to hold off a late-charging Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk. A month ago, the man some call “Gorgeous George” for his good looks seemed all but elected. Sitting on a war chest of perhaps a million bucks compared to Tkaczyk’s $135,000, the three-term assemblyman was considered a shoo-in. But a late infusion of some $500,000 in cash has fueled a series of nasty, negative anti-Amedore advertising that some say has brought Tkaczyk to within striking range and sparked a counterattack from Amedore’s camp. So effective has been Tkaczyk’s surge that some people are even able to pronounce her name, at least her first name, now. For the uninitiated, it’s Suh-Seal-Yah. Alas, if the election were held on Nov. 13, the Duanesburg farmer would be right there. I give Gorgeous a six-point edge.
This will be the second time in two years for Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand running for the seat she won in 2010. A two-term member from a conservative upstate congressional district, Gillibrand tacked left — where the voters are — after entering the Senate via gubernatorial appointment. Other than funding the Walkway Over the Hudson, plucking Gillibrand from obscurity might have been former governor David Paterson’s best move. Conservative Republican opponent (in that order) Wendy Long will get some grudge votes, but not enough to reach 40 percent. With a full six-year term in the bag, Gillibrand — she of the politically expedient checkered record — should be much more her own person going forward.