Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chris Morris: Fall 2010 Election Preview

We’re a little more than two months out from the September primary elections, so it’s a good time to take stock on what we’ll be dealing with this fall.

Statewide, the governor’s race is sure to capture most of the headlines, although early polling indicates Democrat Andrew Cuomo will be our next governor.

Former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio is the front-runner for the Republicans, and then there’s Carl Paladino, who’s picked up some tea party support and hopes to challenge Lazio come September.

And Mr. Paladino has already added a little sizzle and spice to what has so far been a ho-hum gubernatorial race. For starters, some of the first press the Buffalo-area mogul received followed leaked emails that featured racist material and images of bestiality. That’s one way to kick off a campaign with a bang.

Then, last week, Paladino set his sights on New York Governor David Paterson. During a meeting with voters and some members of the press, including Jude Seymour of the Watertown Daily Times, Paladino called the governor a “drug addict.”

Seymour recorded the meeting, and you can watch it here.

The comments were downplayed by Paterson and his staff, perhaps because Paterson isn’t running for reelection and has more important things to worry about at the moment (see: NY’s ongoing budget mess).

In fact, Paladino’s comments about Paterson seem to have caught the ear of voters who were unfamiliar with him. Judging from subsequent interviews, it doesn’t appear that Paladino will back off in the near future.

Howie Hawkins is running for governor as the Green Party’s candidate. Hawkins’ has a history of activism that dates back to the 1960s; in 2005, he ran for mayor of the city of Syracuse on the Green Party Line. He also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, during which he campaigned to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There’s tons more about Hawkins at his website.

There’s a fourth person in the mix, but whether or not he’ll end up in a primary battle with Cuomo is hard to say. Charles Barron is a New York City councilman who says he’s running for governor because there’ s a lack of diversity on the ticket this year.

Barron is referring to the fact that most of the gubernatorial candidates are white men. He says he’ll run on the newly-formed New York Freedom Democratic Party line.

In the Adirondack region, it’s the two Congressional elections that are sure to dominate headlines here on out. Democratic Representative Bill Owens faces a potential three-way race in the 23rd Congressional District, as Republican businessman Matt Doheny and Conservative accountant Doug Hoffman gear up for a September primary.

Doheny has stated he’ll bow out of the race if he loses the primary. Hoffman, on the other hand, says he’ll forge ahead on the Conservative line if he fails to lock up the Republican line.

The wrangling in the 23rd district begs the question: does a three-way race guarantee a second Owens victory?

In an interview with North Country Public Radio, Siena Research Institute pollster Steven Greenberg told Jonathan Brown there’s some concern with the conservative block of voters that a split ticket will end in Owens winning again. Conversely, on the liberal side, voters may be prematurely raising their glasses in victory.

I asked Upstate New York Tea Party (UNYTEA) chairman Mark Barie about the “third party” issue. Here’s what he told me:

“It’s a question on both sides of the political aisle now,” he said. “Hoffman has the Conservative Party endorsement, Doheny has the Independence Party’s support. Continuing in the race on a third party line, for either candidate, is very difficult.”

Barie also said that Doheny is “no Dede Scozzafava.” I took that to mean he’s a more cut and dry Republican candidate than the North Country Assemblywoman — who ended up throwing her support behind Owens just days before the election.

The 20th Congressional District election will be easier to follow. Republican Chris Gibson will challenge incumbent Democrat Scott Murphy, who won the seat last year in a special election to replace U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

There’s also the two U.S. Senate races, as Gillibrand and Charles Schumer both battle to keep their seats. It should be a good ride, and I’ll do my best here to keep you updated on developments as they occur.

If you like politics, buckle up. This fall should be fun.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris lives in Saranac Lake and is communications manager at ACT, the community foundation of the Adirondacks. He has reported in the past for a variety of news outlets across the North Country, including the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, North Country Public Radio, and Denton Publications. His work has also appeared in the Adirondack Explorer and here at the Adirondack Almanack. He can be reached by email at chris@generousact.org.

ACT, the Adirondack region’s community foundation, works to invest in a brighter future for the Adirondacks by inspiring philanthropy and community investment. Home to more than 220 charitable funds, ACT has awarded some $20 million in grants and scholarships in several broad categories, including education, environment, human well being, community vitality and culture. ACT is also leading a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering Adirondack communities and supporting nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.generousact.org.

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