Alas, Dear Citizens, Perhaps Some Of The Fault Is In Ourselves
Edition of Thursday-Friday Nov. 13-14
It’s such a cliche we won’t even say it directly: all-ay, olitics-pay is-ay ocal-lay.
Yes, such was certainly the case in the race for Congress in the 19th, the district that stretches along the Hudson River, then hooks over to, eventually, Otsego County.
The incumbent running for his third term, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, was everywhere. And even after he soundly defeated Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge on Election Day, he kept going, the energizer candidate.
Take a look at his schedule since he was reelected on Nov. 4. He took the 5th off, but on the 6th he had events in South Kortright, Hudson and Kingston. On the 7th, West Sand Lake. Over the weekend, Catskill, Woodbourne, Poughkeepsie, Troy, Rock Hill, Eagles Nest. Look at the map: These places are all over the place.
On the 10th, Webutuck, back to West Sand Lake, then Hyde Park. And on the 11th, Veterans Day, he dashed from a parade in Kingston to the Focus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center (the former Otsego Manor) for Catskill Area Hospice’s annual “Salute the Veterans” ceremony, handing out certificates to 18 residents there.
That’s a lot of handshaking and constituent-meeting, and it characterized Gibson’s whole campaign, and the previous two years since redistricting brought Otsego County into his district in 2012.
Eldridge was an engaging candidate, too. He just didn’t engage enough. Given his connections to Facebook and its reach, it’s probably no surprise that he might have been over-enticed by the relative ease of a virtual campaign. If so, it just didn’t work.
Plus there was the carpetbagger stigma – Eldridge went district shopping, and moved to Shokan, on the southern edge of the 19th, just in time to run for Congress. The stigma was is hard to shake, as proved by his winning just four of the county’s 48 precincts, only four of Democratic Oneonta’s six.
“The old days of having to be a native and lifelong resident don’t hold anymore,” said Tony Casale, Cooperstown, the retired assemblyman from Long Lake. “But you have to move in and settle down before you run for office.” Even a couple of years would have helped, Casale said.
Perhaps he could have made up that deficit by shaking hands, but he was too-little present, at least in these hinterlands. Gibson proved what Eldridge couldn’t do can be done.
Alas, poor Andrew, where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Our governor certainly looked pretty peckish as, accompanied by his partner, always-on Sandra Lee, he cast his ballot in Westchester County.
His victory was never in doubt and, embattled from all sides, he nonetheless won 53.9 percent of the vote to Republican Rob Astorino’s 40.6 percent. Why all the crepe?
Here’s why: According to an analysis by the Syracuse Post-Standard, Governor Cuomo lost 43 Upstate counties, including Otsego, and won only eight this year. In 2010, he won 37 Upstate counties, including Otsego, and lost only 13.
This, despite three balanced budgets in a row, tax reductions we all say we want, the realization of the long-promised Nanotechnology Revolution, Start-Up NY, the economic development councils, the tourism promotions, the four pending casinos. Oh, my.
Still, he was whipsawed. The Frackivistas, sore he hadn’t banned the debated gas-extraction method, vowed “no pasaran,” and threw their votes, first to Zephyr, then to the less-enticing Howie. So there went the center-to-left.
The SAFE Act, pushed through in Cuomo style in the wee hours a few days after Sandy Hook, infuriated the center-to-right, while failing to win back the single-focus anti-frackivists, many of whom would normally have warmed to his gun-control plunge.
Upstate, vigorous, across-the-board policymaking turned out to be a lose-lose. Downstate, New York City predictably went with the Democrat, and that carried the day.
The election didn’t matter to the governor’s New York State career, but it certainly dimmed his prospects beyond.
Perhaps that’s the lesson, dear Brutus: New York elections can be won, but the state is ungovernable.