Or perhaps I exaggerate.
State party chairman-designee Jay Jacobs, a Shandaken summer fixture for the last 43 years, said he called the mini-meeting at his convenience.
“People know that for eight weeks in the summer I’m at camp in Shandaken,” he told me from Camp Timber Lake. “I don’t leave here unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Jacobs, Nassau County chairman since just after 9/11, is the governor’s choice for chairman. Being this governor’s pick for anything isn’t necessarily a lock, given the chief executive’s abysmal poll numbers. How bad? One recent poll had former governor George Pataki beating Paterson head to head. George Pataki? The man who would be president? That’s bad.
Despite recent successes, Democrats are worried. If the (presumed) top of the ticket, limping along below the mid-30 in percentages, is viewed as incompetent and ineffectual by a majority of voters, imagine the carnage down the line, especially in the contests for state senate, reclaimed by Democrats last year after 40 years in the minority.
Jacobs says the senate debacle in June was “an embarrassment to both parties.” No doubt, but Republicans never elected leaders characterized as “a thief and a thug.” The latter will stand trial in October for slashing his girlfriend’s face.
Jacobs, a personable pol, downplayed the looming disaster Paterson currently represents, suggesting that there is plenty of time before the 2010 election for him to get his numbers up. Actually, there isn’t.
The time line begins to accelerate right after the November 4 election. Attorney general Andrew Cuomo, Paterson’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, leads the incumbent by near-two-to-one margins among Democrats in almost every poll. If Paterson’s poll numbers don’t turn up sharply between now and election day — it doesn’t look like handing out stimulus checks is going to do it — look for Cuomo to offer himself as party savior.
Particularly ominous for the governor is that the Kingston session was called to settle differences between Democrats and labor. In good times, the two are interchangeable, the only real issue being how to divvy up the spoils. If Paterson loses labor, he’s toast.
Jacobs, the governor’s choice for chairman, insisted labor is still with Paterson. “I talked to five of six union heads who were there. Personally, they’re all anxious to work with the governor, anxious to turn things around.”
Obviously, the operative word is “anxious.”
The New York Post, in its over-the-top style, characterized the meeting as a stern warning to the governor to turn things around by October.
“The Post account was completely inaccurate,” Jacobs said, which is to say that the smoke we saw rising over the Holiday Inn last Tuesday really wasn’t smoke at all.
There will be another summit in October, probably in New York City, only two months from now. Jacobs said he asked labor leaders and party officials to draw up an agenda for that meeting next month. With the clock ticking, Paterson’s poll numbers are likely to be at the top of everybody’s list.
Ulster County Democratic chairman Julian Schreibman said he got less than 24 hours notice as “host” of the event. Schreibman said he stayed for a few hours…
June O’Neill of St. Lawrence County currently heads the party. “St. Lawrence County? Do they have Democrats up there?” Jacobs was asked.
“We’re within 300 of becoming the majority party,” he responded. “That’s not all us. We have to give George Bush some credit.”
Jacobs, 53, said he’s been camping in Shandaken since he was ten years old, and bought the place when he was 24. He and his wife and two children spend the summers with 400 campers and 200 staff…
It’s only August, but I’m hoping somebody — maybe the League of Women Voters — schedules a face-to-face debate between the candidates for Ulster County judge. Which is to say, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouths, not just a bunch of down-and-dirty surrogates.
Republican chairman Mario Catalano got the ball rolling a couple of weeks ago when he blasted Democratic candidate Deborah Schneer for being soft on crime. Don Williams, Catalano’s candidate, is a former two-term district attorney.
Democratic chairman Schriebman returned fire, whacking Catalano for “mud-slinging, baseless attacks against this outstanding judge.”
Here, I have to check the definition of “baseless.” Outstanding judge? She was Rochester town justice for less than four years. But Williams, a prosecutor for more than 30 years, never sat on a bench other than at Kingston High football games, as Democratic surrogates like to point out.
Schreibman also dredged up an episode of embarrassing Williams history — his futile attempt at the GOP nomination for Kingston city judge two years ago. That was more the product of bad planning on Williams’ part and good organization by Mike Bruhn Jr., who had the nomination wrapped up long before the outgoing DA made his intentions known. Bruhn was bombed by incumbent Jim Gilpatric in the general election.
Getting back to the surrogates. It is understood that judicial canons limit candidates to what they can say or discuss, but not entirely. One of these candidates will be county judge for ten years, beginning January 1. We need to hear directly from them.
Schneer will be sworn in on Friday as judge until the end of the year. It will be interesting to see who shows up — or doesn’t — for the photo op…
A memorial service for Freeman journalist Blaise Schweitzer will be held at 2 p.m. on September 13 at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston. Participants are invited to bring food for the pot-luck buffet and mementoes. ++