Plot Thickens

Ulster Republicans have come under sharp criticism, and well they should, for failing to field a candidate in the April 30 special election for county executive, but that might be changing.

GOP chairman Roger Rascoe has called a special meeting of the county committee for Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Shawangunk Valley Firehouse in Wallkill to nominate a candidate to run in the special election. Democrats have nominated Pat Ryan of Gardiner. Rascoe drew only blank scares when he asked for volunteers at the party’s convention at Ulster town hall last week. 

The firehouse is about a mile and a half from Rascoe’s house, convenient for the chairman and his town committee, less so for the rest of the county. To which Rascoe replies, “Is it convenient for people from Shawangunk to drive to Kingston for meetings?” Touché, with a caveat: GOP headquarters is in Kingston.

Rascoe, ever the wily mysterian, on Tuesday was unwilling to reveal the name of the person he will offer for county exec. Asked if it were a man or a woman, he would only say, “maybe.”

“I could say it’s between two people. One is luke-warm, the other, warmer,” he advised.

Whether this candidate be Luke or Lucy, he or she is almost certain to lose a special election against the steamroller Ryan has put together. If it’s Me-too Lucy, things could go differently in the general where far bigger numbers will come into play.

The record suggests that voters haven’t exactly stormed polling places to cast ballots for county exec. Running unopposed, Mike Hein drew only 28,673 votes in 2011. Four years ago, Hein’s total dropped to 20,437 against former legislature chairwoman Terry Bernardo (15,598), which represented only about 35 percent of eligible voters. Hein’s embarrassing total in ’15 might have launched him on the road to Albany.

Assuming we have a real contest this year with some real policy differences, turnout could be appreciably higher. Let’s hope so.

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