Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dog and pony show

Jasper Nolan looked like an aged cousin of Quasimodo as he skulked around the periphery of a packed crowd of Republicans. The scowl on his face was too tight to allow in the free-flow of booze, which was preventing the rest of the crowd gathered at the Holiday Inn from grasping the stinging reality of what was happening; the feeling of looking up to see a metric ton of elephant dung mysteriously whistling down overhead. The tired look in his eyes said it all: The party’s over.

Nolan eventually crossed into the confluence of bright lights and video feeds to join an equally tired-looking Jim Tedisco, who soberly emerged from seclusion shortly after 10 p.m. He also looked exhausted after a solid 45 days of political buggering. He tried to stay on point and upbeat. He tried to bring the ‘Disco Jim’ charm that kept his re-election bids in the Assembly rolling in remarkable succession. But there was no denying the fact he lost the race for the 20th district; or if he won, that it wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

Just a few miles down Route 9, Scott Murphy and his supporters regaled at the Gideon Putnam. His upright posture and his beaming smile –everything about him –seemed to suggest victory. Even with more than 10,000 absentee ballots outstanding, the Democrats were clearly placing a bold checkmark by Murphy’s name in the win column. Flanked by Gov. David Paterson and freshman Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Murphy seemed to exude confidence as he boldly proclaimed the race had swung in his favor.

And it has. Anything less than a resounding defeat is a victory for Murphy and the Democrats, considering the remarkably Republican district was hand-picked by former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Tedisco, who was more or less Bruno’s understudy in the state Legislature, had behind him the once omnipotent GOP machines of Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Those areas delivered heavily for Tedisco, who was previously viewed as the great white hope of the party in the Capital Region and perhaps the state.

But now Tedisco is the guy who blew a race that no clear-minded pundit ever thought he could lose. Just two months ago, most political junkies didn’t even think Murphy would be able to give the Assembly minority leader a run for his money. Murphy was viewed as a candidate picked by his party because of his money and ability to self-finance a race in which the Democrats were serious underdogs. Yet with each passing week, he seemed to gain ground on the back-peddling Tedisco campaign, which failed to grasp the evolving political demographic in New York.

Tedisco’s desperation became blisteringly apparent two weeks ago, when his campaign henchmen decided to blast Eric Sundwall off the ticket, a miscalculated move that will forever haunt him if Murphy ultimately wins. Sundwall naturally turned around and endorsed Murphy after being royally screwed out of his democratic right to run for office by a Republican stacked Supreme Court in Duchess County.

That’s right. All three justices on the bench in Duchess are card-carrying Republicans of the Pataki genre. And they’ve all made a practice of ensuring their fellow party members are victorious in close elections. Combined with state Republican Committee chairman Joseph Mondello and former state Board of Elections Counsel John Ciampoli, they are among the dying vestiges of the Pataki-Bruno era.

And they’re the last hope Tedisco has for victory, albeit a Pyrrhic one. Justice James Brand –the same judge that ruled against Sundwall two weeks ago –will oversee a hand recount of all 10,055 paper ballots issued in the race. In his county, Brand is known as being sympathetic to the Republican cause, which is precisely why Ciampoli has relied on him throughout the race.

The recount process will undoubtedly take months, leaving the 20th district empty and primed for redistricting in 2010. It also means Tedisco can save some face from the Sundwall error, which clearly worked in favor of Murphy’s campaign. Keep in mind Sundwall’s name is on the absentee and military ballots and any votes in his favor will be disqualified. Under the theory Sundwall’s handful of supporters went to Murphy, Tedisco may be able to chisel himself into the lead.

Either way the election swings, the key now is the Democrats’ ability to maintain a majority in the state Senate. Provided they do, they’ll probably gerrymander the powerful Albany machine into a new composite district that will easily be won by any candidate they choose.

So what does this all mean? First of all, Tedisco’s career in politics has taken an abrupt turn for the worse. His run for congress could have certainly been viewed as a litmus test for higher aspirations, such as governor or maybe even Gillibrand’s senate seat. But given the closeness of the race, the party will think twice about placing him on the ballot for anything other than his assembly seat even if he squeaks out a victory.

More importantly, Tuesday’s election is yet another benchmark signifying the end of the stalwart party Alfonse D’Amato built and Bruno kept in power for nearly two decades. On the other side of the isle, the Democrats are riding a golden-crested wave churned from the depths of the Republican’s abject political failure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was the level of Obama community organizing in this race?

Did they send in local field organizers?

Were the folks from the Obama campaign in Saratoga and other counties working on the campaign?

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Win, lose or draw: Disco Jimmy should be ashamed of the campaign he ran.

Sorry, Jimmy: we don't fall for the standard GOP tricks of lies and personal attacks on your opponent.

The 20th is played up in the national media as 'cow country', but you know better. Nascar Nation we're not.

You belong down in the South with the rest of your kind...

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I will drink a glass of whiskey to that, my friend.


Dr. Gonzo

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like it even matters who wins. You could send a bag of dog crap to DC and get better results than from either of these clowns.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trickery, dickery dock
Time's run out on Tedisco's clock

He ran on a plan
To discredit a man
Who has money
He made owning stock

But Murphy was wise
And made light of his lies
Showed the GOP he was large in the... chutzpah

Now its come down
To who's gonna frown
When this charade finally ends...

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is what happens when local GOP leaders allow the national party to get involved. No connection to the commununity begets ads like the ones we saw. Neither campaign was a shining example of a positive effort. As much good as Jasper has done over the years, perhaps it's time to step down and take Tom Lewis, Kathy Marchione, Matt Dill, Dan Gale and the rest of the executive Committee with him. They can't get the job done anymore and have stopped listening to the grass roots, unless you are a wealthy grass root. Negative campaigning certainly has been proven to be effective as a part of an overall campaign theme, but it will never work all by itself.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


While certainly local organizers who participated in the Obama campaign also helped Murphy, there was no sudden infiltration of national campaigners from Washington as far as I could see. Frankly, Obama's only contribution to the whole race was that he's still an extremely popular president that took five minutes out of his busy day to toss over an endorsement. And on that point, I believe this is the first time a candidate for any local office(outside maybe governor) has received an endorsement from a sitting commander-in-chief.


I agree wholeheartedly. Early on, Jim should have told the Washington GOP to knock it off. They dropped a deuce during two consecutive national elections and have NO credibility anymore. Tedisco's lame excuse of 'I don't have any control over them' was even more pathetic than the AIG and Wall Street commercial the RCCC was running. If there was a beginning to an end for Camp Tedisco, it was those ads. But his true political blunder was killing Sundwall's candidacy and then claiming(again) he had nothing to do with it. He and his cronies routinely use third parties as a political football to torpedo the democratic process. He has a long and storied history of doing this in Schenectady County, which would have come out during the election were he running in his own district(which he wasn't).


Very true. As I've opined here frequently, the candidate to take the 20th district will either be just what you said or a shill beholden to the ruling party, which happens to be the Democrats. Neither one of these men will do anything in Washington. Murphy will spend his time trying to curry favor with the senior Democrats in the house, while Tedisco will get about as big of a cold shoulder as one can get in politics; the term 'red-headed step child' comes to mind for some reason.


All across the Capital Region, Republican bastions are failing. The party here is in about as dire straits as they come. They're neutered in Albany, they have no one in Washington, and they're slowly starting to lose hold of local footholds as well. For instance, watch Saratoga County's Board of Supervisors in the coming years, as Bruno's influence slowly ebbs. Already, they've lost the VLT aid, and if the Chip Fab isn't a homerun in Malta, you're going to see the first tough budget year in the county come down the pike.

So this is a long way of saying I agree. They should have turned over the party leadership after the Democratic sweep in Saratoga Springs. That was a harbinger of the need for new blood and a new party philosophy. The only thing that dulled the sting of that loss was that the City Dems curiously decided to implode.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...


MAN, you are EVER in your element here with hardball regional politics... albeit at the cost of moving too fast for the loonies to compose their rants. I'm sure you and the best of your readership have caught today's NY Times and yet another "National SPAhtlight" moment from Gail Collins (The People Have Mumbled).

It matters little that I believe Underdog Murphy will reign after a few months in Pelosi's Obedience school. Hey, WHO can figure a district gerrymandered like this fiasco?

But I WOULD like to add to your view from 50,000 feet--

"If the Chip Fab isn't a homerun in Malta, you're going to see the first tough budget year in the county come down the pike."

"Homerun" or a "dribbler back to the mound," keep an accountant's eye on the County Water System, coming to a Chip Fab near you in October.

If the time comes for Casey at the Bat, maybe Murphy...or JT... will secure a Ballston Spa "bailout."

-Kyle York
Pundits & Pipelines

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Where to begin ?

Obama's operatives may not have been on the ground, but on election night Murphy's campaign staff were bragging that there were over 900 union "volunteers" on the ground on election day to assist Murphy with the his get out the vote effort. No special interest pressure there, right guys ??

Also,Horatio, how do you figure that the Republicans lost the VLT aid for Saratoga ? They were not even consulted in the budget process, it was the 3 Dems in the room that robbed the city and the county of the VLT money.

Saratoga County remains the lowest taxed, most successful county in the entire state and it has been controlled by Republicans for a very long time. Those are simple facts, no matter how much it pains you to see them, and Republicans hold 19 of the 23 board seats, and that's not likely to change this year, just like it didn't change in the last election.

And Kyle!!! The water authority is a success!!! Deal with it ! Get therapy of something, but deal with it please. AMD is coming, the water authority is a success just as Saratoga county is the most successful county in the state. Here's why people want to move to Saratoga county: low taxes, safe communities and good schools. Delivered, for the most part, in Republican controlled communities.

One more thing ..
Tedisco will win after all the ballots are counted. Once the incumbant he will be there for as long as he wants (absent a Sweeney like self destrucive personality). He can win by one vote or ten thousand, but it will be Congressman Tedisco either way.

All Jaspen Nolan did was deliver Saratoga County in numbers sufficient to win the election. Not bad for an old guy who you say can't get the job done. I knew Tedisco would win as soon as our beloved Governor declared Murphy the " Congressman elect".

BTW .. Congrats to the Democratic Gang of Three for the great budget they gave us!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


No doubt, there was a distinct union ring to Murphy's campaign. And don't take any of these posts as suggesting Murphy doesn't have special interest. In fact, he was a Trojan Horse candidate that managed to bring Tedisco to the brink of political insolvency.

In retrospect, the writing was on the wall the day the dems announced him as a possible candidate. Only myself and many others were too deaf, dumb and blind to realize it. Many pundits were saying the race was all about name recognition. Well, it was. But more importantly, it was about getting people to the polls. How do you do that as a Democrat in a markedly Republican region? You tap organized labor. Initially, they wanted Suzy Ballantyne on the ballot. She would have been instantly viewed by the Republicans as a threat and attacked as much in the first weeks.

Murphy, on the other hand, was so obscure of a name they and just about everyone in the district didn't take him seriously. Mind you, this is a guy who was deeply involved in out-of-state party politics as a ranking aid for the Missouri governor. Unlike some or all of the other democratic candidates, he did register a blip on the national scene. So the 10 county chairs explained their plan to organized labor -a conversation that was no doubt facilitated by Larry Bulman's ties -and likely offered Ballantyne some sort of incentive to bow out of the race.

Also remember the party laid REAL low during the first weeks of the race. They rolled that wooden horse right through the gates of Camp Tedisco and waited. Once Jim became complacent, they jumped out with a well-funded, union-supported candidate who had ties in the national party.

Onto the VLT aid. There are two ways the Republicans lost this funding. First, by losing Joe Bruno and the senate majority and to a lesser extent, by the nature of the city having a Republican majority that has no way to bend the ear of the downstate leadership in the governor's office and the Legislature. Certainly, it was the Dems decision to cut the aid. But if Bruno was in power, they would have never done it. Would a Democrat in the mayor's seat have changed anything? Doubtfully. But it would have given the city a fighting chance, especially because it's a campaign year. I know this is a bit abstract, but it's the way you have to think in the convoluted world of state politics.

Regarding the county seats, we shall see. The tide has definitely turned, and the Democrats have clearly turned an eye toward wining ground up the Northway. The county seats are a bit more entrenched, and if the the Dems fail to produce nationally over the course of the year, they'll never do it. But watch out. I'm telling you the Supers in Ballston Spa aren't nearly as insulated as you make them out to be.

On Tedisco's wining, certainly it's a possibility. Maybe even a likelihood. However, your second postulation is far from accurate. The only way Tedisco will keep that congressional seat is if the Republicans can re-take the senate in 2010. They'll have to do A LOT of regrouping to make that a reality. If this doesn't come to pass, Tedisco will have to run for re-election in 2010, and then face the possibility his seat is redistricted into the 21st congressional district by a legislature controlled by the Democrats. Not that I think the Dems are all that powerful and will remain vibrant in the Legislature; rather the Republicans have grown so weak in New York, it's hard to see them making any sort of comeback. They didn't in 2008, and that was despite the Spitzer disaster.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...


If the political failures of your "Republican controlled communities" have challenged your nostalgic musings, there's no reason to lose ALL touch with reality.

#1- The County Pipeline has fallen "behind schedule." That inconvenient fact was stated by Chief Engineer Dan Loewenstein before the disgruntled Water Authority. It's in their Meeting minutes, on-line and un-spun.

#2- Much of the pipe is still above ground. Most problematic is the section where a Contractor stopped all work because they have not been paid. No resolution yet... again, read the minutes.

#3- AMD has made NO legally-binding agreement to come to LFTP. In fact, they can and will wait until their July 2009 deadline. They have good reasons to use ALL the time given to them by Saratoga's Supervisors--

#4- Global Chip demand is DOWN, inventory is HIGH, and global production plants... including some of AMD's... are being CLOSED. Some for a while, some forever. Read the industry news sites and ask if YOU would jump in when you're free to watch for signs of ANY market recovery.

#5- INTEL has threatened to end their 2001 agreement with AMD. While the details are not in the AMD Press Releases from Travis Bullard, they are thick and plentiful in the complex industry blogs and trade magazines. But even YOU can learn the INTEL threat has a deadline of MAY 15... somehow it got into our local newspapers.

#6- IF INTEL goes through with the threat, both parties suffer: INTEL can no longer use AMD technology under license... but AMD can no longer use INTEL technology under license. That is why the 2001 deal is called a "cross-licensing agreement."

#7- The MALTA FAB 2 is designed to produce ONE chip only, a chip which has HIGH global demand-- The X86. Unfortunately, the X86 chip is one of the INTEL chip designs.

#8- The financing from Abu Dhabi was partly intended to profit from the MALTA plant's output of X86 chips. Would YOU pay to build a factory that can't BUILD the PRODUCT you can SELL?

#9- YOU are not dumb and neither is ATIC (the Abu Dhabi money guys). Well, ATIC is not dumb so they will use the time between MAY 15 and JULY to re-negotiate the deal with AMD. ATIC will still want to buy the existing factories in Dresden and Austin... but they'll back away from the useless MALTA project and cut about $2 billion from their life-saving investment in AMD. Again, see writings of expert analysts.

#10- The Water Authority is counting on FAB 2 to purchase 77% of their water... 2.45 million gallons per day. If the MALTA plant fails for ANY reason... that 2.45 mgd MUST find new buyers to keep the project at the very minimum amount to operate in the black. WHERE could such HUGE purchasers be found?

#11- The Water Authority is working extremely hard to supply clean water to the towns downstream of the GE dredging at Ft. Edward. It's here in our newspapers-- the negotiating with HALFMOON, STILLWATER, and WATERFORD. They were never listed in list of the "likely buyers" because they are located too far from the pipeline. The connection pipes will be long and co$tly.

THAT is where we are. It you believe AMD is a "done deal" and the Water Authority is "good to go"...

...I guess you still live in a tidy world of "Republican controlled communities." No Kirsten. No Murphy. I guess no Obama, right?

-Kyle York
"Deal with it!"

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans have in office for years. Are we now going to give credit to the Dems for making Saratoga County what it is. I don't think so. The Dems screwed up Saratoga Springs real good, first they get out of the County Sale Tax formula and lose millions, We voted out Skip Scirocco who was to become Saratoga County Chairman of the Board. Why can't Yepsen get us the VLT money's, just what has she done anyway? The Dems have alot of work to do and for our sakes I hope you can do it

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle you know your shit. Kudos.


4:44 PM  

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