Democratic Party electeds recently gathered to rally around one of their own at a press conference at the Senate House Garage in Kingston. Legislative chair Tracey Bartels, assemblymember Kevin Cahill and Kingston mayor Steve Noble were joined by county executives Daniel McCoy of Albany and George Latimer of Westchester to declare their endorsements for Jen Metzger, candidate for Ulster County executive.
Media attendance was sparse because of a near-simultaneous announcement of a federal grant of $1.3 million for the sheriff’s substance-abuse prevention program, which had drawn away several Democratic candidates in the area for the opportunity to be photographed standing next to the sheriff, an important optic to fend off the evergreen Republican talking point that Democrats are soft on crime.
But with her Republican opponent Jim Quigley out there roaming the red-party hinterlands of Ulster County, Metzger was able to tout her statewide credentials.
With Noble as emcee, Cahill spoke first, praising Metzger’s ability to inspire.
McCoy praised her for her honesty to her constituents and Latimer praised her for her connections and ability to get things done. The sales pitch took shape. Metzger’s history in elective public service and her connections on every governmental level were essential qualifications for an effective county executive.
As attempts to coordinate and amplify messaging in front of a camera, even well-attended press conferences tend to be bland, staged affairs. Public-relations experts recommend something different to capture the imagination of the public: rallies, marches or vigils. This footage was destined to bombard a much larger crowd on the Internet than could ever fit in this lobby.
Every now and then the crowd gets lucky. During his endorsement of Metzger, county executive George Latimer provided a useful diagnosis of political reality. “There’s two streams of politics, as I see it,” said Latimer, “where you’re seeing it in very strong relief right now nationally. I think the main difference is the politics of rhetoric versus the politics of results.
“The politics of rhetoric highlights ideological positions. We believe this, you don’t believe that …. The politics of rhetoric warps the differences between us to divide us and then says: We’re better than Them. Be afraid of Them.
“The politics of results is we say: How do we make a better Kingston? How do we make a better Albany County? How do we use the legislative function and the executive function in this county and other counties? How do we develop services out in these diverse categories of urban needs, your suburban needs, and then rural needs? Let’s look at positive results.”
Early voting in Ulster County continues until November 6.