Hugh Reynolds: Things are looking up

Sean Eldridge speaks to supporters in Kingston Tuesday night as husband Chris Hughes applauds. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Sean Eldridge speaks to supporters in Kingston on Tuesday, Nov. 4 as husband Chris Hughes applauds. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

By now, former Democratic Congressional candidate Sean Eldridge should be starting to figure out what he’s going to do with the next part of his young life. Taking a miserable 35 percent of the vote against Republican incumbent Chris Gibson on Nov. 4 must have been a shattering outcome for him.

How bad was it? Former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once said that every team that wins 40 games loses another 40. It’s what happens over the other 82, Lasorda opined, that decides who wins the pennants. Eldridge won 40 games.


In politics, virtually every major political party candidate starts with 35 percent. Before winning two contests for town supervisor, Woodstock Times editor Brian Hollander got 35 percent of the vote in a lopsided campaign against the late state senator Charlie Cook in 1982.

Hollander managed to scrape together $1,500 for that tussle. Eldridge, after spending a rumored estimated $7 million compared to around $4 million for Gibson, wound up with 35 percent of the vote. Why bother?

It certainly wasn’t all his fault. Barack Obama is on a downward spiral, and Andrew Cuomo ran like a Clydesdale upstate. Democrats stayed home.

Fortunately for Eldridge, he and Facebook husband Chris Hughes have $600 million or so left to finance their next adventure. For this 1 percent couple, $7 million is the daily movement on the Dow.

Careful, Colonel

It sometimes happens that candidates who have struggled before record-breaking wins develop a certain hubris. After all, if two out of three voters think you’re something special you could start to believe you’re something special. Hopefully, winning candidate Gibson will remember the special things that carried him to the heights last week.

One story of Gibson on campaign may suffice to demonstrate why his common touch paid such huge dividends. Gibson, a career Army officer, still prefers the high and tight haircut he got in boot camp as a teenage recruit. I spotted him across a crowded room when the Irish ambassador was in Kingston in September. It looked as though somebody had trimmed his locks with a chain saw.

Edging up behind him, I said in a low voice, “Say, Colonel, do free haircuts come with your Army pension?” He doesn’t take his estimated $65,000-a-year Army pension as a member of Congress, where he earns $175,000.

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

“It’s pretty bad, isn’t it?” he answered with a laugh. “My aide and I were out in the district last week, and he noticed I needed a haircut. We spotted a barbershop on the town square, so I went in. The barber was an 84-year-old former paratrooper, but a little unsteady. What could I do?”

Cut to the chase? Stay humble, Colonel.

PS: I tried to reach the congressman on Friday. Staff said he was out attending veterans’ events.

Family court

Unless losing Family Court candidate Gilda Riccardi, Democrat of Saugerties, takes about 80 percent of the 2,900 absentee ballots to be counted by the board of elections this week, winning Republican Keri Savona of Kingston will be donning the ermine come January 1. Savona carried the day by about 1,700 votes on Nov. 4.

That the two former candidates could be working in the same building, with but one a judge, might make for some stress in the courthouse powder room. Neither is a stranger to the former Schaller’s Garage in Uptown. Riccardi is chief counsel to Family Court judge Tony McGinty at 16 Lucas Ave. Savona, as Department of Social Services chief attorney, is in Family Court on a daily basis.

While it shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise, county officials were caught short last June when the state legislature approved 21 new Family Court judgeships around the state. Only Ulster’s was to take effect in January 2015. (Others will be seated a year later.) “Hopefully, we’ll be ready by Jan. 1,” said go-to Deputy County Executive Bob Sudlow, the man with the plan.

The plan is to relocate about 20 members of the public defender’s office, currently located behind two family courtrooms in the rear of 16 Lucas Ave., to available space on Golden Hill. County Executive Mike Hein has penciled in $350,000 in the 2015 budget for renovations at Lucas Avenue for the new judge and about half a dozen staff.

Court notes

Remember Kingston attorney Kevin Bryant, the guy who finished second to Riccardi in the Democratic primary? Bryant, in a maneuver that may have cost Riccardi a few votes in the general election, gave up his Working Families nomination in Ulster — thereby handing it to Riccardi — and ran on that ticket for state Supreme Court in Brooklyn. It was all perfectly legal.