Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back to local politics

It was more or less an open secret throughout this campaign season that New York Democrats were not interested in taking back the State Senate. In a post months ago, Gatemouth suggested that possibility and explained why:

Is there a risk in setting up what would likely be the first one-party controlled government in Albany since 1974, and the first one-party Democratic controlled state government since the 30s? Obviously, because so may people are scared about it. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver certainly prefers having a Republican Senate. Hell, he probably prefers having a Republican governor. Being the only Democrat in Albany’s iron-triangle makes you the “go-to guy”. ... Since a Democratic Governor seems a near certainty next year, Silver has acknowledged this reality, but still prefers to be controlling Democratic legislative power all by himself.
But what Silver is really afraid of is not only a loss of power, but the acquisition of accountability. With a one party government in Albany, everyone will know exactly who to blame. In divided government, pesky interest groups can be placated with “one-house bills”, a shrug of the shoulders, and promises of better days to come. One party government means a time where the chickens will come home to roost, and payback will be a bitch. Suddenly, a lot of folks are going to expect all those poorly drafted, poorly conceived, “one-house bills” to be enacted into law. For the most part, this won’t happen, because it can’t happen; but a lot of people rue the day when they are called to account for this.
Mario Cuomo and his gang used to have a wonderful road-show. The Governor and his minions used to give a set speech outlining the Governor’s utopian vision of a shining city on a hill. No matter what the problem, the Governor had a program. Yes, none of those programs had ever been implemented, but that was the fault of those evil Senate Republicans. And, in fact, when given the opportunity to help elect Senate Democrats, Mario Cuomo cannot be accused of sitting on his ample campaign chest and doing nothing; he, in fact, was notorious for finding opportunities for going into the districts of vulnerable Senate Republican and finding reason to praise them in front of cameras and the working press.

Today, the Times does a postmortem on Democrats' failure, in fact, to take back the New York State Senate, including this notable paragraph.

Democrats did relatively little to try to take the Senate. They put some of their star power behind their State Senate candidates — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Spitzer stumped for Ms. Stewart-Cousins — but did little to share the wealth that poured into the campaign coffers at the top of the ticket. Republicans, by contrast, raised money at a furious clip for their Senate candidates.

The New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee raised more than $7 million this year, taking in more than $1 million in the past two weeks. The Democrats raised less than $2 million for their campaign committee this year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the State Board of Elections.

And of that $2 million the NY DSCC took in this year? They sat on nearly a million.

$833,599.60 That's how much cash the New York DSCC has on hand as of their last filing. It's 5 days out from a once in a generation cycle and they are sitting on close to million freakin' bucks. The scuttlebutt I hear is that they are saving money for the next cycle. No, really. You read that right. They are hoarding for the future.

As they say, you find a party's priorities by following the money.

Now, the immediate ramifications are that New York's problems and debt continue to be kicked down the road, perhaps until Spitzer decides to run for President in 2012. We can probably expect no serious reform of the education spending formulas that so drastically shortchange New York City, nor any real help in clearing the MTA's dangerously mounting maintenance backlog. As importantly, though, in an overwhelmingly Democratic state where three Republican Congressmen eked out victories of less than 5 percent (and two more won by less than 15 percent), Democrats have not fought to control the next redistricting process.


Over at Room 8, a commenter says the same.

The Republicans will control the New York state Senate for one reason only, and for the reason they have in the past, because New York Democratic politicians want them too. There was enough of a Democratic wave this year that the Dem- Senate leader elect had to all but announced this. This stuff is getting blatant enough that the usually incumbent friendly NY Times called on voters to vote for Republicans for the State Assembly and for Democrats for the State Senate.

A Republican state Senate gives the Democrats a good enough excuse to continue business as usual in New York. The problem is, this isn't 1913 (when the legislature impeached and removed a reform-minded governor) when this was one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world and could tolerate some graft. Modern day New York is a combination of a city no one can afford to live in and an upstate where no one can find jobs.

We are probably four years away from a collapse of the state tax base. Until then, we pretty much got the State Senate the Dem NY establishment wanted. Its a contrast from the federal House where enough progressive and populists got swept in to at least make things interesting for the next two years.


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