Hugh Reynolds: Early birds

Assemblyman Pete Lopez.

Assemblyman Pete Lopez.

If being first out of the gate means anything, Assemblyman Pete Lopez could be the next congressman from the 19th District. Former assemblyman John Faso, whose number we haven’t called in quite a while, might have something to say about that, even though he says he won’t make a decision until summer.

Both are veteran politicians. They appreciate the challenges of planning, mounting and financing a congressional run from Republican backwaters like Kinderhook and Schoharie County, especially for an open seat squarely in the sights of Beltway sharpies. Then again, a complete unknown named Chris Gibson did it in 2010.

That Beltway money will be heavily engaged in the district is evidenced by the almost $12 million spent in the Gibson-Eldridge race last year.


Lopez, who’s been announcing around his Assembly district that he’s “seriously interested” in Congress, says he’s aware of the challenges of running in a district much larger than the one he currently represents.

“The question is, Will I have enough to prime the pump, will I have enough to get in the poker game?” he said last week.  Lopez knows something about high-stakes political poker. One of his challengers in his first primary a decade ago raised that issue, he said. “I took a second mortgage on my house. That shut him up. Believe me, my announcement will come with a financial plan to back it up.”

Lopez, 53, believes he has an edge in already representing all or some of six counties, including Ulster, in Gibson’s eleven-county district. “My name is more familiar than anyone else’s,” he said. “I’ve been visible and engaged outside my district.”

Faso, an attorney in private practice, hasn’t been center stage since Eliot Spitzer socked it to him in his run for governor in 2006. Four years previous Faso, now 62, took it on the chin in the race for state comptroller against Alan Hevesi. Faso likes to remind people that the two guys who beat him for state office didn’t finish their terms, whatever that means.

Faso, who rose to minority leader in the Assembly after five terms, has now been on the sidelines for almost a decade, but has a wide circle of contacts, financial and political. Being Gibson’s Kinderhook neighbor won’t hurt, either.

No one is conceding this district to Republicans, Gibson’s overwhelming success notwithstanding. The district has roughly 6,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. Democratic turnout last year was abysmal. That won’t be the case in next year’s presidential elections.

Noble effort

In television news they call it “the tease.”

“Flash! Roof collapses at the White House! We’ll be back with that story and others, but first, this . . .”

After teasing his announcement for a mayoral run for six weeks or so, Steve Noble’s coming-out last Saturday night at a Broadway pizza parlor was, well, anti-climactic. Young Noble, only 10 years out of college, will need to tighten up his act if he is to be a serious primary opponent against armed-and-ready incumbent Shayne Gallo.

Despite tip-toeing up to the moment, Noble drew a large and enthusiastic audience at his announcement at the venerable Tony’s Pizzeria (Kingston’s first pizzeria). Like their candidate, the crowd was mostly under 40 and progressive.

Noble, the city’s environmental program specialist, presented himself as “a Democrat with a vision for Kingston’s future,” which sounds remarkably like Gallo’s own campaign theme. While youth represents the future, Noble, surrounded by eager young faces, talked mostly about the city’s long-standing problems: vacant stores, crumbling infrastructure and the like. He didn’t mention the incumbent by name, but buzzwords like “cooperation and coordination” were intended to get the message across that Gallo can be difficult to deal with.

Neither did Noble mention his more famous uncle, three-term Alderman-at-Large Jim Noble, perhaps because the prospect of having a council president and a mayor from the same family might be considered a bit dynastic, even by Kingston standards. (Gallo is the brother of former mayor T.R. Gallo, who appointed him a city attorney, and the son of longtime alderman-at-large T. Robert Gallo.)

Steve Noble. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Steve Noble. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Jim Noble, in typical fashion, was non-committal on the family connection. “Will we run as a team?” he asked, repeating the question. “I don’t know. We’ll have to talk about it.” Noble ran with Gallo four years ago, but says that’s not happening again.

As Gallo has built no bridges to the Democratic city committee that rejected him in 2011, Noble is considered a lock for the unofficial party nomination at convention in May or June. After that, September’s Democratic primary will deal with the real business of who will be the next mayor of Kingston.

Peace in Paltz

A front-page photo in last week’s New Paltz Times of usually adverse town and village officials embracing each other must have drawn mixed reactions among residents. On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see politicians acting like responsible adults. On the other, it being New Paltz, bitter conflict is likely only a single controversy away.

I don’t think former gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout will swing many votes to village mayoral candidate Tim Rogers. Most people don’t like outsiders telling them how to vote. In any case, it was just political payback. Rogers backed the charismatic Columbia law professor in her failed primary against Andrew Cuomo last year.