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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Jennings and political winds...

2009 just heated up: Someone - let's just say he's got a really good tan - knows damn well how to read the tea leaves. Looks like the tanman is planning to get out right as the Democracy in Albany crowd is planning on getting in:
"Most likely, this will be my last term," Jennings, 57, told the Times Union's editorial board.
Not that I think the progressive coalition is necessarily going to win the mayor's office. But they'll certainly get the fight they want. Paging some moving trucks to get Soares a city address? Or not - The TU seems to think that there are obvious non-Soares front-runners:
Jennings didn't seem concerned about leaving no heir apparent. He said he is not backing any of the four candidates in the Democratic primary for Common Council president, a citywide post that is next in line to become mayor should the incumbent leave or otherwise be unable to serve.
A few points here about "heir apparents":

point #1: We don't have a whole lot of data to work with - since 1942, we've had exactly three mayors - Corning, Whalen, and Jennings. It's hard to justify using "heir apparent" language when you have no data. It's true that the Common Council president becomes mayor if the mayor is assassinated or dies, but that doesn't really speak to his/her political future. It's not like the vice-presidency of the United States is a particularly extraordinary stepping stone to the presidency. It's not - only 5 VP's have won presidential elections in 225 years.

point #2: Jennings himself was not the annointed candidate of the machine in 1993, Harold Joyce was. It may seem like Jennings represents a political machine, but it isn't the political machine. True, Jennings was common council president - but at the time it was the conventional wisdom that the "heir apparent" was not the common council president, but the hand-picked party man!

point #3: Albany politics is still in the denoument of the strong machine era. The political culture is changing at a rapid pace, and to try and predict the power posts and the power people based on anything from the past is rather silly. Here's a nice Metroland piece from a bit back on the slow fall of the machine over the past generation. Of course, if you want to see the machine in action, just get Oh, Albany! or Mayor Corning.

I guess my point is that there is absolutely no telling what is going to happen in 2009, except that it will be exciting. One theory is that a strong progressive coalition will finally re-open (or just "open") the door for the rise of two party politics in Albany, instead of a factional one-party system. I suspect that the stronger the progressive coalition, the more likely this becomes. And I guess that's something of which I would be in favor. I don't love the progressive coalition, but I admire their interest in shaking up city politics, which can only be for the better of everyone who is skeptical of a stagnating machine.

On the other hand, I'm no Jennings-hater either. He certainly has connected Albany to a endless slush-fund of state money, and I generally think his revitalization program for the city has been a positive. It's hard to see Albany as worse off than it was 12 years ago, and that counts for a lot.

But I guess the tanman doesn't want to go for the longevity record. Then again, he'd need another 25 years just to pull even with Erastus.
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