Hugh Reynolds: New gig for Kevin Cahill

Hugh Reynolds.

Hugh Reynolds.

Being transformed from Reddy Kilowatt to the Aflac duck, which is to say from being chairman of the Assembly Energy Committee to Insurance, may seem a lateral move. But it could also be another step up the ladder for Kingston’s Kevin Cahill.

Cahill apparently sees it that way. “It’s a promotion,” he said from his Albany office shortly before he was to chair a meeting of his new committee. But to where?

Cahill would willingly accept an appointment as Assembly majority leader, second from the top of the lower-house totem pole. In the tightly managed domain of Speaker Shelly Silver, one does not lobby for the position. Doing so could result in one’s parking privileges being revoked. Or worse.


Silver chose Joe Morelle of Rochester in January, the man Cahill is replacing as chairman of the Insurance Committee. There may be a career path there. If Morelle was one step from majority leader, could Cahill too be but one removed?

As chairman of the “underappreciated” Energy Committee, Cahill said, he’d “gone to energy university,” learned as much as he could. Now he’s up for new challenges. Cahill, who has served most of his career on the Health Committee, expects that Insurance will play a “monumental” role as New York transitions into Obamacare in the next few years. He wants to be in on the action. No stranger to health-insurance issues, he was an executive with locally based WellCare during his four years out of office (1995-98).

He’ll draw the same $15,000 lulu on his new committee assignment, and will have similar staff.

In typical fashion, Cahill, who likes to listen — at the expense of action, say some — will hold hearings in the Hurricane Sandy-damaged areas downstate with an ear toward how the insurance companies responded to claims.

For constituents, the promotion of their elected leaders, or their assignment to influential committees, like former congressman Maurice Hinchey on House Appropriations, is usually a good thing. At the confluence of insurance and health care policy at the highest levels, Cahill could play a role on, say, how the reconfiguration of Kingston and Benedictine hospitals, plays out. Stay tuned.

Tail wags senator

Victory, as they say, has many fathers, but when you win by less than two dozen out of 126,000 votes cast, everybody can take credit.

Putting aside that new state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk trounced GOP assemblyman George Amedore in Ulster County by an official 8,804 on major-party lines, the hard-working Working Families Party came out a clear winner, its line providing the Democrat almost twice as many votes as the Conservative Party and Independence Party lines (for Amedore) combined. Greens threw in another 791 for the winner. Had that Green plurality in UlsterCounty been only 781, she would have lost. Or so goes the logic.

A total of 2,593 were cast on the Working Families line in Ulster, compared to 1,936 on the Conservative line and 1,118 on the Independence line, according to the Ulster County Board of Elections. That Amedore drew heavily from conservatives comes as no great surprise. The Indies, of course, stand for nothing, which is pretty much what they did for their candidate in this election by polling just under 35 percent of (Indy) enrollees. Traditionally a party aims to “poll its enrollment” and more.

Working Families, with only 563 members, attracted more than four and a half times its enrollment.

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

Kevin Cahill. (Photo by Dan Barton)

The Working Families Party works for its candidates, supplying ground forces, phone banks, staff and sometimes funding. Working Families also has a well-defined agenda which it expects its nominees to follow. If any minor party can take credit for Tkaczyk’s upset victory, it’s Working Families, and she better not forget it.

Tkaczyk misspoke at her Ulster inaugural a week ago by claiming she took Ulster by “10,000 votes.” But not by much. The official figure (including minority parties) is 9,134.

Not to be ignored is that Amedore outpolled her by 9,115 votes in the rest of the sprawling five-county senatorial district.

Hitting the ground running, the new state senator’s first (or second) official act was to hand-deliver a senate resolution to Fordyce Post of Lloyd on the occasion of his 100th birthday on Jan. 30. Among the honored centurion’s numerous accomplishments, according to the Senate resolution, was working on the construction of the Mid-Hudson (Franklin D. Roosevelt) Bridge, opened by the man himself — Roosevelt, not Post — in 1932. Four years later, Post was working on a Roosevelt-sponsored civilian conservation project in Mississippi.