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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!

Primary Results

Too Goodbee to be true: Well, the primaries are over. It was pretty predictable. The TU headline - Jennings easily takes mayoral race - is technically true, but also a completely disingenuous spin on the story. Sure, Jennings got 68% and that's more than he's gotten in either of his previous primaries. But the last two were against Harold Joyce and Jack McEneny, serious politicos with serious cash and serious campaigns. Did Goodbee even run a campaign?

As I said Monday, less than 75% should be considered a wake-up call for Jennings and less than 65% would be an unmitigated disaster for him. He fell between those ranges. I mean, come on - the obvious story in this primary is that Albany's political culture is rapidly changing. A real candidate, who had the backing of hte WFP might have been able to pull a Soares on Jennings. I have no doubt that the Jennings coalition is going to fall apart in 2009, probably to the benefit of the progressive movement.

On the other hand, it wasn't like Jennings and the establishment rolled over. Dewitt flamed out against Barnette, and the Common Council was not overhauled very much. In fact, the results made DIA mad enough to head dangerously close to a "if the voters are this stupid, then they get what they deserve" response to the results here:
As far as Barnette, I can only say to all you taxpayers ...suckers ...my lord ...I'm really stunned on that one...
That's not a great thing to say in a democratic system. It's an expected response when people are frustrated with democratic results, but it's ultimately counterproductive. It's similar to the attitude that crippled the national Republican party in the 1960's and is probably harming the national Democrcatic party right now - the idea that the people are simply too stupid and/or too stuborn to see the light and that, ultimately, if they want to be that dumb there is nothing the philosopher king can do about it.

This kind of thinking tends to do wierd things to a party. The 60's Republicans became bitter and defeatist; the current Democrats have adopted a bunker mentality, looked for hope toward the non-democratic institutions (like courts), and have become more radical. Neither formulation is a good one if you are looking for future electoral success. Whatever the merits of your philosophical cause, it's just political suicide to tell the voters how dumb they are after they reject it.

It's an easy impulse in politics to trash the intelligence of the voters - nothing is more frustrating than losing when you believe that your candidate/ideology is obviously superior - but it's not a productive attitude to bring to the table. You end up a cynic, and usually in an echo-chamber. I've been there.

DIA can be forgiven the day after an election; I just hope he/she returns to a more productive posture sooner rather than later. I'm sure he/she will.
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At 11:52 AM , Blogger democracyinalbany said:

No need to waste any time forgiving me.

You should hear what I was saying and didn't write. The voters get exactly what they deserve. For example I'm more than happy to point out that a lot of americans are too blind or too stupid to have seen that george bush was an incompetent leader. Been saying it a long time. And now, a lot of republicans and other americans are finally waking up to this fact. The outlook isn't pretty. Well, I (and many others) told you so. I would've preferred to have been wrong, but i wasn't. Perhaps the same will happen with Barnette, perhaps not, but if you think she is doing a good job, you have your head in the sand. I gave her credit where credit was due. She ran an exceptionally negative and successful campaign. That doesn't mean she is doing a good job as treasurer. The voters were duped. I feel bad for them. But I won't be changing my tune. You are the political expert. You must realize that is it very common for voters to vote against their own self interests.

I'm not a political party. I'm one person who writes about local politics. I'm not the progressive movement. I have no idea what the "progessive movement" is thinking after this election. However, I did comment today on the mistakes I believe they made. I'm sure they won't come out and say that the voters were duped or aren't that bright. I will. And I'll stand by it. But then again, i'm not running for anything, so I'm free to speak the truth.    

At 12:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

Count the absentee ballots, and Jennings will be at 70 percent or above. Did Goodbee run much of a campaign? No, but neither did Jennings. I'm sure he would have raised his game considerably if he had a serious, well-funded challenger.

Goodbee's total is not a surprise. He benefitted on two fronts: the anti-incumbent vote inherent in any election, and the fact that black voters clearly turned out for a black mayoral candidate. Let's face it ... If Goodbee was a white candidate who ran a similarly lousy campaign, his percentage would have been a good deal lower.    

At 11:54 AM , Blogger Citizen McLain said:

The Race to Watch

There is ONE race for Common Council that will be unique this fall: the three or four way race in the 7th Ward. The Democratic nominee is not an incumbent or a Jennings ally; the Republican nominee (yours truly) is not your run-of-the-mill establishment candidate; there may be a Conservative nominee who lost the Democratic primary; and there will be an independent candidate on a Law and Justice line, who also lost the Democratic primary -- but not by much. This is a wonderful development for the 7th Ward and for the city - no Jennings-allied incumbent, an open race and a unique set of candidates.

The big debate for the 7th Ward will be about what type of Common Council member we want, at least between the Democrat and the Republican: do we want a community activist or do we want more of a policy analyst?

If the TU were on its journalistic game, it would cover this race, as it may be the only one with an uncertain outcome. I have faith that Metroland will, and so will DIA...perhaps even WAMC or some other journalistic media.

Don't let the media ignore the mayoral race, the common council president race or the races where Republican or other third party candidates are on the ballot. Even though history may indicate blowouts in these contests, the candidates who have put themselves out there to challenge the status quo (80 years of it!) deserve some recognition for their efforts, especially if they have a thoughtful campaign or platform.

Game on!    

At 7:45 AM , Anonymous Ford McLain - McLain for the 7th said:

An interesting development is that in two of the three races with an open seat, the non-Democratic committee candidate won. In the 7th, Cathy Fahey (D-WFP) won; in the 4th, Barbara Smith (D-WFP) won, but in the 8th, John Rosensweig won. I think he was supported by the mayor. The nominees supported by the county organization did not do as well. Also, Carolyn McLaughlin, who is also a D-WFP won as an incumbent. So, the lesson is: incumbents win pretty easily; in open races, non-establishment candidates have a good chance of winning when individuals have opportunities to make new and different choices.

This is why the 8th and the 7th were unique, because voters had two different sets of choices to make: Republican and Democratic primaries. And there will be third party candidates in those races.

With the glimmer of hope that change can occur when incumbents are not on the ballot, perhaps the idea of term limits (mandated or self-imposed) has merit.

See you on the streets.    

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