And they’re off!

Meeting in virtual convention last week, county Democrats voted to endorse five-term Republican incumbent Nina Postupack for reelection in November.  In effect, Democrats stole a march on Republicans (who have yet to announce a nominating convention) in nominating the GOP’s clerk before they could. Smart politics.

While Democrats have been heaping well-deserved praise on their new ally, the goal all along with husbanding its resources in an attempt to secure a veto-proof majority in the legislature.

As Democrats survey the political landscape these days, they are masters of their domain, controlling. every county-wide office, except clerk. To serve their purposes, they can live with Postupack for another four years. In any case, she has indicated to party leaders that this will be her last term.

The brilliance of this strategy is that Democrats will have the most popular vote-getter in the county running at the head of their ticket on the same Row A line as the 20 (of 23) candidates the convention endorsed for county legislature.

Currently, Democrats hold a bare 12-11 majority in the legislature. Based on a near 2-1 enrollment advantage, Democrats should carry at least 15 seats, maybe more. Check that. Riding Postupack’s coattails, “the people’s party” could claim upwards of 17 seats and with it a veto-proof majority.

The going wasn’t quite as smooth as this telling might indicate. Initially, Democrats were hell-bent for “the sweep,” i.e., defeating Postupack and claiming every county-level office. At least that’s what the party’s executive committee was recommending before committee members met in virtual convention.

Smarter heads prevailed.

“Look,” a veteran committeeperson told me, “we had two choices. We could either oppose Nina and spend $50,000 to lose again, or we could use those resources and effort on electing more legislators.” The convention, in weighted voting, adopted that strategy by an almost 2-1 margin. For Democrats, it could produce bountiful dividends in November.


AFTER THE PARTY – Having been blind-sided by Democrats, Republican county chairman Roger Rascoe will be looking for a disgruntled Democrat to oppose comptroller March Gallagher for reelection. “Roger likes to hang around to pick up the pieces,” a disgruntled Republican told me. My sense is that train has left the station, but we’ll see.

Supreme Court hopefuls Kevin Bryant of Kingston and David Gandin of Gardiner must have breathed sighs of relief when word came down from Albany last month that Capitol District Democrats would honor their commitment to support two Ulster residents for open seats on the high court. Last week’s convention duly endorsed both hopefuls, but it’s a long way to the official judicial nominating conventions in Albany in September.

Or maybe I’m just fed up with backroom power brokers depriving the electorate of a voice in electing judges, however qualified those candidates might be.


ARCHER STEPS DOWN – Officially, the reason for Lynn Archer resigning as chair of the legislature’s highly-coveted and influential ways and means committee was to allow more time to tend to her ailing mother.  Chairman Dave Donaldson, in accepting Archer’s proferred resignation – “I did not ask for it, she offered” – can certainly sympathize after having lost his own mother recently.

But lurking not so quietly in the background is the perception of Archer “micro-managing” (in Donaldson’s words) county finances, of “holding things up with endless questions.”  Archer, for her part, was said to view the chairman as “bullying.” The executive branch had its own issues with how its proposals moved through the committee. Clearly, something had to give.

Archer, a retired banker, will serve out her term and remain a member of the much-coveted ways and means committee she chaired for just over two years. Donaldson said freshman legislator John Gavaris of Ellenville will replace her as chair.

Archer didn’t return calls for comment, but I find it curious that having been twice appointed chairperson of the legislature’s senior committee in the last two years, she has become rather anathema to the chairman (and perhaps others) who appointed her.

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