(1/1) Catskill Mountain News Article

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Looking back on ’18 

Historians may look on 2018 as a year of profound change. As mid-term elections go, the year just ending was historic in terms of voter turnout, almost at the level of presidential elections. The blue wave, featuring a host of newcomers and returnees, buried some 40 incumbent Republican congress members and a bunch of state senators.

Less noticed was an October surprise – the stock market slump – that might have turned off the Trump base. It began to dawn in some sectors that with a healthy economy, low unemployment and hiring on the rise, something else – or someone – must have been roiling the markets. A clue: Tweet. 

No surprise

As close associates were herded off to jail, Gov. Andrew Cuomo equaled his father’s record in capturing a third term. For the record, Nelson Rockefeller was elected four times, but didn’t finish his last term. 

Van Blarcum gone

Hereabouts, a once-popular sheriff, hoisted on the Trump petard, lost his seat to a virtual unknown, so strong was the blue tide. To his credit, outgoing Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, though bitterly disappointed, accepted defeat graciously and provided a smooth transition to successor Democrat Juan Figueroa.

Let’s take it from the top

Governor’s race: “Not bad for a second termer,” was one of the last things a dying former Gov. Mario Cuomo said to son Andrew, prior to the elder Cuomo’s death four years ago. And now Andrew, like his father, has a third term. To what end, nobody can tell.

It appears NYS Senate Democrats are prepared to reinforce victory, what with the appointment of freshman senator Jen Metzger of Rosendale as chair of the Agriculture Committee. For Metzger, this represents something of a two-for: Without serving a day in office, she gets a substantial raise and a high-profile committee, one vital to her new constituents.

Assembly: I offer brief mention mainly because almost nothing changed. Absent outrageous scandal, Schoharie Republican Chris Tague could be in office long enough to call the 102nd assembly district “the Tague seat.” Safely ensconced, he might want to temper his anti-Cuomo rhetoric just a bit, if only on behalf of his constituents.

Congress: All things considered, I thought Democrat Antonio Delgado should have secured more than a 7,000-vote margin over first-term Republican John Faso. I mean, Delgado had almost everything going for him, the blue wave, tall with good looks, lots and lots of money and he comes in with 53 percent?

Faso’s tortured explanation of why he lost (Trump, Trump and more Trump) seemed to lack one important ingredient: candor. He told fellow Republicans they need to honor this outcome; so, does he. Faso, after a solid victory in 2016, started to lose this election way back in the winter of ’17 when he refused to hold town meetings. It might have been the tactical call at the time: hold off until things cooled down. Things only heated up, as witnessed by seven Democratic candidates primarying each other for a shot at what all saw as a very vulnerable incumbent. Strategically, which is how they keep score, it didn’t work at all.

Family Courthouse: Ending the year on a positive note, Ulster County dedicated its new 60,000-square foot Family Courthouse weeks ahead of schedule and seemingly half a million dollars under budget. Channel Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Sy Hersch on this one: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Only the hopelessly naïve should believe figures from politicians, and as I recall there was at least $500,000 plugged into the project’s contingency budget. But let’s maintain the holiday spirit as long as possible. Kudos to all parties.