Dante’s GOP

Ulster County’s rapidly-dwindling Republican Party has not engraved the words “Despair. All ye who enter here” over their Kingston headquarters, but they might after counting last week’s candidate petition filings. It’s been a helluva year for the GOP and it seems to be getting worse.

With a minimum of 750 signatures required on county-wide nominating petitions, Democrats filed a total of 5,100 names, Republicans, just 1,016. Were Republicans to spin this sad showing, they might say, “Hey! We got 32 percent more than we needed.” But they didn’t.

Does this mean Democrats will defeat Republicans by a 5-1 margin in November? Probably not. I predict Democrat county judge candidate Bryan Rounds will do better than that; he’s running unopposed. But it does scare off the weak-kneed, willy-nillies who might seek to pursue what seems the statistically impossible dream.

I do not, of course place GOP candidates Mike Kavanagh for district attorney and Jack Hayes for county executive in those categories. For Republicans, Kavanagh against Dave Clegg represents their signature race. Hayes, while a late entry, has gotten busy rounding up supporters and funding for his long-shot quest against Democratic juggernaut Pat Ryan for county exec. Ryan and Hayes will face off in a special election on April 30. Official results from that election, which might pull 20 percent of eligible voters, will better determine relative strength between the two major parties.

Non-enrolled voters are the second leading voting block, comprising about 32 percent overall enrollees. Republicans have 23 percent, according to the Board of Elections

Look for Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by more than 18,000 enrollees, to storm the polls, if only to certify the widening gap between them and what used to be called the Grand Old Party.