I’ll confess I was not glued to the tube for every minute of the party conventions last month. As they appeared from my lounger, both went beyond the usual bellowing to the choir, even unto fresh-scrubbed offspring reading teleprompters on the virtues of their parents. Both major-party candidates came out of the conventions with high negatives intact, presaging massive voter turnoff.
I fear terminal dismay. Though politics is blood sport, I have never seen a presidential candidate deliberately insult so many people. Trump seems to have no filter.
At the other end of the tunnel, there’s Clinton fatigue. These people have been in our faces for over 25 years, counting primaries. And this is the road to the future? Try as I might, I can’t help but wonder what Hillary isn’t telling us.
Them’s the choices the two-party system has left us. Yuk.
How this sad state of affairs affects elections down-ticket, as they say, remains to be seen. It can’t be good news for either party.
Typically, another 10 percent or so of registered Democrats turn out for presidential elections and vote their party line. With less of a surge, Republicans like state senators George Amedore and Bill Larkin could be feeling more secure. Compounding Democratic challenges is the split between disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters and those of the head of the ticket.
By the same token, mainstream Republicans, weary of the bombast erupting from the top of their ticket, might just stay home.
Not to pick favorites at this early date, but Democratic Congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout might be a beneficiary of this unusual scenario. Nicely positioned between Bernie-Lite and pivoting toward Hillary-centric, Teachout in this historic year of the woman could do more than merely hold off a hard-charging and heavily financed John Faso.
Likewise, newcomer Sara Niccoli, running against not-yet solidly established Amedore for one of the few tossup seats in the state Senate, might benefit from her Teachout resemblance. I expect these two birds of a feather to join forces in a more definitive way as autumn leaves begin to fall. The energetic Niccoli traveled from Montgomery County to join happy revelers at Teachout’s primary-night victory party in June but seemed lost in the crowd. I’ve seen less of Amedore.
People who follow these things take notice that politicians rarely attend events staged by their opponents or mention even deserving foes in press releases. We like to think they’re all playing in the same band, since they represent the same people. But that’s seldom the case.
Take Assemblyman Kevin Cahill’s announcement of an as-yet-unspecified amount of state funding for a walking trail on the abandoned Ulster and Delaware railroad tracks through Midtown Kingston. If you thought that project a Mike Hein production, you’d be right. The Hein administration has already committed a million dollars to the project this year (total cost is estimated to come in at $2.3 million) in conjunction with a countywide trail system.
As Cahill asserts in his release, with no mention of Hein, he’s been working on the trail for at least a decade. Archrival and walking-trail maven Hein took office in 2009. Do the math.
A nod to Hein’s efforts would have been appropriate, if not refreshing, but Cahill chose a different gesture. Hein treats Cahill in similar fashion. Wouldn’t an occasional team effort be more productive?
The Cahill release did give insight into the potential costs of trail construction, which on paper seems none too complicated. Some $2.3 million is a lot of money for a fancy sidewalk. Perhaps the assemblyman and county executive could begin trolling for state money to pave pothole Broadway.
Bridge over troubled waters
Left unmentioned in the Cahill press releases of last week was former mayor Shayne Gallo’s role in advocating for state funding for the decrepit Wurts Street bridge over the Rondout. The tenacious Cahill, who reported that the state DOT had earmarked $37 million in capital funds for the span, had been on the case years before Gallo took office in 2012, and is still at it seven months after the star-crossed mayor lost his bid for reelection.
It’s fair to note that Gallo was not as hands-on in badgering state DOT on bridge repairs as the late Esopus town supervisor John Coutant. In fact, the two agreed that Coutant, who died in June of last year, would be point man on this project. Gallo at the time was busy running city government and trying to save his brief political career from dissident Democrats.
Coutant, among others, gets glowing reviews in Cahill’s revisionist version of history. Gallo, like many Bolshevik revolutionaries in Stalinist Russia, has become a non-person. At least they hung his portrait in the hall of ex-mayors at City Hall.
Wearing my other hat as dear friend of the Hein administration — Mike and I played golf together when he was county administrator — I note one of Hein’s first priorities as county executive was pursuing federal funds for the repair of the Wurts Street bridge. Few will recall or even care anymore that the bridge was high on Hein’s extensive wish list for federal stimulus funds in early 2009. But as Hein and so many others discovered, $800 billion doesn’t go as far as it used to.