It’s been no secret that Saugerties Conservative Party chairman George Heidcamp has been interested in seeking the county Conservative Party’s top position. Problem was, the current chairman, Edward Gaddy, hadn’t announced he’d be stepping down. For Heidcamp to gain the chairmanship, that meant there would have to be a competitive election.
Heidcamp’s attitude: so be it. Prior to the vote, the two met over coffee. Apparently the meeting was amicable.
Party chairmen have an advantage prior to votes for county positions. That’s because they hold power when it comes to appointing people to committee vacancies, and they of course will try to appoint people they know favor them.
The first vote for chairman by committeepersons came to a 34-34 tie, leading to another try to get at least a one-vote majority.
It’s curious that a political party would hold its organizational meeting the night of the first presidential debate (Monday September 26). Maybe no one looked at the calendar beforehand. Still, only three people left after the vote. Maybe they rushed home to see the debate.
On the next vote, Heidcamp came up short 33-32. Gaddy was reelected.
To avoid what would have seemed like a long drive home from Port Ewen after a losing effort, Heidcamp was elected to the position of first vice chairman.
Two-time Saugerties supervisor candidate Gaetana Ciarlante became the county Conservative Party recording secretary. That puts her and Heidcamp in as members of the six-person executive board, and gives Heidcamp another vote, besides his own, if he needs it for anything.
A month later Heidcamp was reelected to his Saugerties Conservative Party chairmanship, and three Conservative Party candidates in the last election filled out the rest of the local executive team. Gaetana Ciarlante became vice chairman. County legislature candidate Angie Minew became second vice chairman. Town board candidate Dan Ellsworth became secretary-treasurer of the town committee.
It didn’t get much attention, but long-time Democratic Party activist Patti Kelly was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Zoning Board of Appeals at the town board’s September 7 meeting. During the town-board discussion phase of the resolution to appoint her, it was pointed out that Kelly was the only applicant, as though that could only mean the volunteer job was hers by default.
There was a time politics would have taken over, and the opposition party would have worked on finding an alternative candidate. one who would at least put board members on the spot to show support for one of their own if not one assured to win the appointment. That didn’t happen last month. Perhaps the political opposition wasn’t aware of the opportunity, or wasn’t in the mood to fight battles, or doesn’t have the energy to direct slings and arrows a year before the next town election.
That all five board members voted in favor of the appointment may speak to town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel’s influence to an apolitical approach to town government. With these next 14 months likely being Helsmoortel’s last at the helm of town government, we’ll see whether the town board working in harmony without interjecting politics in appointments continues after the next town election.
Since Wikileaks was founded in 2006, it’s reported that the organization has published over ten million documents. Americans took notice of Wikileaks in 2013 when Chelsea Manning, an Army whistleblower, was court-martialed and put in prison for releasing nearly 750,000 sensitive United States documents to Wikileaks.
Wikileaks and our congressional district
The story of Wikileaks recently became localized when it posted emails on its website from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, involving congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders during this year’s New York Democratic primary. The emails suggested Clinton supporters tried to offer a political advantage to Teachout through a backroom deal, in return for Teachout staying out of the Democratic presidential primary.
There’s apparently nothing illegal in those Podesta electronic communications discussing support or lack thereof in the presidential primary campaign.
Is there politically embarrassing stuff in those emails? Yes. Absolutely. How many people don’t have emails on their computer they’d rather some of their friends not see? And how safe are their emails when they are stored on services such as Gmail and Yahoo?
That’s not to suggest that everything improperly obtained by Wikileaks shouldn’t see the light of day. The Supreme Court affirmed as much in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case involving Daniel Ellsberg. While he was under the employment of the United States government, Ellsberg obtained and revealed sensitive secrets. Those classified government documents included giving the public insight over decisions that went into how the government misled Congress and the people in its escalation of the Vietnam War.
But the email revelations by Wikileaks about the New York State Democratic primary this summer seem to have been released simply with a political aim in mind. It’s personal.
Early this year, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, made known his distaste for Hillary Clinton, and has said he didn’t want her to become president.
The lesson here is that electronic espionage is now a fact of political life. One no longer needs to infiltrate a political enemy’s ranks or break into a campaign headquarters as was done in Watergate. You don’t need spies. You just need a computer and a willing computer expert to cause havoc. Assange is a computer programmer.
“As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process, and I will not indulge it,” warned Florida senator Marco Rubio last week. “Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”
Political autopsy revisited
Coming off Mitt Romney’s almost-six-million-vote loss in the presidential election in 2012, which resulted in an electoral-college margin of 332-206 (270 are needed to win), Republican national chairman Reince Priebus put together a committee of five persons to examine, explain and address the party’s losses on the national level. Keeping in mind that Republican candidates for president had lost the popular vote in the last five of six contests, the committee put forth a 97-page report four months after the election, calling it the “Growth and Opportunity Project.” Some termed it an autopsy.
The report stressed the party’s need to address immigration reform and outreach to Latino voters. With exit polls showing Romney lost the Latino vote 71% to 27%, Republicans harkened back to George Bush in 2004 garnering 40% of that vote.
The report advised Republicans to talk more openly about issues affecting people of color. It talked about the party often being viewed as intolerant, and recommended it change that perception, especially when it came to gay rights.
Working to solve problems through compromise, rather than appear to take unwavering positions, was seen as a way to counter critics who portray the Republicans as the party of “no.” The report stressed the need to use technology more and to its advantage, especially in messaging and the ground game.
The country’s demographics were changing. The party needed to adjust its message without abandoning its principles. The county is less white. More women are voting than men.
The authors of the report were Henry Barbour (nephew of former RNC chairman and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour), Ari Fleischer, (former press secretary to George W. Bush), Zori Fonalledas (a stalwart Republican from Puerto Rico, national Republican committeeman Glenn McCall from South Carolina and Sally Bradshaw, who worked in Republican campaigns for decades and was in the first George Bush’s White House. It was reported earlier this year that Bradshaw changed her registration from Republican to an independent, citing her disapproval of Donald Trump.
Some in the more conservative fraction of the party, such as Erick Erickson, a Fox News contributor and talk-radio host, faulted the report, saying the authors were all from the establishment wing of the party.
As election results are analyzed a week and a half from now, Republicans may want to reflect on some of the points made in the four-year-old report.
National Democrats who believe they have a chance of moving the House of Representatives over to their majority view our 19th Congressional District, where Republican John Faso is being opposed by Democrat Zephyr Teachout as a must-win. Currently the makeup is 246-186, so the Democrats would have to flip 30 seats.
Last week Donald Trump called for a constitutional amendment for term limits for Congress. It’s been reported that Faso and Teachout have both said they’d serve no longer than five terms if elected. Trump’s “drain-the-swamp” message has called for imposing a three-term limit.
A constitutional amendment ever happening to address congressional term limits is very unlikely. Here’s why. There are two ways to propose amendments to the United State Constitution. One is that both the House and Senate propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote. The other is that two-thirds of state legislatures need to call on Congress to convene a constitutional convention, and then three-fourths of state legislatures or three-fourths of the conventions have to say “yes” to pass any amendment.
That’s a tough road to have to travel. In the case of Congress, those whose terms would be limited are the ones that are being asked to vote to limit them. When it comes to state legislatures being asked to limit the terms of Congress, they’d have to answer the question why they don’t limit their own terms. Of the 50 states, 15, or fewer than a third, have some form of term limits for state houses.