This dismal failure to offer the voters a choice has several parents.
There was the flaccid leadership in the Republican legislature, which gave Hein pretty much a free hand. Former county GOP chairman Robin Yess did little or nothing to recruit a candidate. If anything, Yess, who quit all of a sudden in May, extolled the virtues of the zero-tax-increase executive. It’s tough to recruit opponents when the top official in your party is lauding the opposition. Lastly, newly-elected GOP chairman Roger Rascoe of Shawangunk had only weeks to look for candidates, and was in any case more concerned with his own election as party leader.
A few were called, to no avail. One of the more intriguing names to circulate at last week’s GOP convention in Kingston was former legislator Mike Stock from Woodstock.
Well-heeled and with a propensity to spend heavily — Stock, a retired contractor, blew bundles on his runs for town board and legislature — the would-be candidate was seen by many as the party’s last great hope. No fool, Stock decided in the end he’d rather spend this summer chasing birdies at Wiltwyck Golf Club than voters.
Stock didn’t return requests for comment, but I have to wonder whether his golfing buddy Mike Hein — both carry single-digit handicaps on Wiltwyck’s demanding course — didn’t drop a dime on his frequent playing partner.
Hoping somebody will step up against Hein, Republicans will focus their efforts on reelecting Holley Carnright district attorney and winning a majority in the new 23-member legislature.
Hein, a frequent critic of the GOP majority, now presumably free to do as he chooses, could make life extremely difficult for Republican candidates should he hit the trail for their Democratic opponents. Or he could play golf with Mike Stock, a fervent hope in GOP circles.
By the numbers
The Ulster legislature was reapportioned by population, of course, but there’s something to say about rewarding localities where people actually exercise their right — some call it a duty — to register and vote. Trouble is, it’s illegal.
There’s a five percent population deviation among the 23 districts, high to low, but when it comes to voter registration in those districts the deviations are far greater.
Witness the new Woodstock-West Hurley district (Number 23) with 6012 registered voters, not including a cluster of minor party members, compared to District 13 (Shawangunk) with only 2685 registrants. That’s a deviation more than ten times higher than population. Put another way, a candidate in District 23 would need more than twice as many votes to get elected than a candidate in District 13, all things being equal.
Average district registration is about 4600.
Elsewhere, District 1 in Saugerties shows almost 5000 registrants, while District 5 in Kingston (Wards 1, 2 and 4) has just over 3400.
Political parties, which can make their own rules, use a form of weighted voting to nominate candidates. There, a district that turned out more voters for its candidate in the last gubernatorial election is rewarded with more votes at subsequent conventions.
Roy Hochberg of Glenford, redistricted into a Woodstock-dominant district, says he won’t primary Democratic nominee Don Gregorius. I’m told a small coterie of anti-Gregorians in the Woodstock Democratic Committee agitated for town endorsement of Hochberg. Demographically, that would have represented the tail wagging the dog, since Woodstock outnumbers West Hurley (Hochberg’s base) by better than three-to-one. Republicans nominated perennial losing candidate Jim Monseratt.
Republican Catherine Terrizzi of Wallkill was dealt a double whammy by reapportionment. Redistricted into a Democratic district dominated by Gardiner, she’s backing Jack Hayes, an enrolled Conservative, against Tracy Bartels, a former legislator on the comeback trail.
It’s entirely possible that for the first time in Ulster County history that there will be three members from the same family in the legislature. Brothers Robert and Richard Parete of Accord could be joined by their father John, running out of Olive. Hello, family feud.
The Parete brothers live within a five-iron of each other — if Mike Hein hits it — but were the beneficiaries of new district lines that ran between their homes.
Down south in Marlborough, some Milton residents are none too happy about new election districts that will have voters journeying to the wilds of Lloyd to cast their ballots. New district lines divided joined-at-the-hip Republicans Rich Gerentine and Frank Felicello into separate districts so they wouldn’t have to face each other in a primary.
Reportedly “stunned” after being rejected at convention, incumbent Democrat Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz is expected to primary party nominee Tom Cotton, a former town-board member. Word around New Paltz is that Rodriguez may be paying the price for backing Jason West for village mayor, and crossing the always-dangerous Susan Zimet. Hector’s had it too easy for at least three elections. A competitive primary would do him a world of good.
I’m hearing some Democrats grousing about a redistricting plan that supposedly favors Republicans, but the broader view, based on enrollment, indicates Dems could take at least 13 of 23 seats.
In an unprecedented move, Kingston mayoral candidate Rich Cahill says he won’t accept Mike Gill, the convention’s choice for alderman-at-large, as his running mate. Applicants are asked to line up on the right. Cahill faces a four-way Republican primary with party nominee Andi Turco-Levin, Jean Jacobs and Ron Polacco.
Contrary to public conception, mayor and alderman-at-large are not running mates, as in president and vice president or governor and lieutenant governor. They are separate offices. However, an alderman-at-large as a (perceived) running mate can make the difference between defeat and victory for the mayoral candidate.
On paper, Gill looks like a prospect, having gotten to within 42 votes of defeating majority leader Bill Reynolds in the Seventh Ward two years ago. Gill brags that he forced Reynolds out of politics — the nine-term Democrat won’t be running this year — but Reynolds (no relation) had a lot more on his mind in 2009, personal and professional, than getting reelected.
Again, on paper, Gill would seem to have a far better chance of winning an open seat in his home Seventh Ward than taking on the formidable Jim Noble for city-wide office.
Party front-runner Turco-Levin has neither rejected nor embraced Gill. Assuming an open mind on the subject, she might consider house-painter and philosopher Joe Marchetti of Rondout as a running mate.
I hope Jacobs stays in the race. She’s good journalistic fodder. For instance, Jacobs, who got zero votes at the convention, either didn’t vote (she’s a committeewoman) or voted for someone else. So why was she a candidate?
Two-time Republican congressional candidate George Phillips and wife Diana welcomed Michael Louis into their family on May 28. Reflecting the circle of life, the baby was named after George’s late brother, Michael, who died at 48 last October. Phillips, who sounds like he wants to run again, especially if incumbent Maurice Hinchey vacates the seat, was handing out photos of the baby at last week’s GOP convention.
Closer to home, Rob and Rebecca Leibowitz celebrated the arrival of Andrew Gabriel, born May 24 at Northern Dutchess Hospital. Rob, a principal planner in the county planner’s office, was an advisor to the reapportionment commission during its five months of deliberations. With Rebecca due any minute in May, it was a race to the finish line. Thankfully, the commission got there first.++
Hugh Reynolds’ column appears weekly.