Flip That Senator!

With Darrel Aubertine’s apparently comfortable win in the 48th Senate special election over Will Barclay, inquiring minds want to know: Which Republican senator will switch parties first? Wow, the phone lines in Albany have got to be smokin’ now!

While the outcome of this election is all kinds of bad news for the NYS GOP, a party that has not had any good news for many many years, I caution any Democrats against reading too much into the outcome. The major impression I get about what this election meant for the actual voters in the 48th, is best summed up by Danger Democrat of Watertown (who has to be very happy today):

Tuesday, February 26th, is a day that may alter and illuminate our times in the counties of Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence. But probably not. Change happens by individual degrees usually, not 180 of them at a clip at a singular event. But this SD 48 election is a major component of a gradual watershed alteration in the NNY political landscape. From egalitarian, paternalistic politics to a more populist version. The previously rocksolid landed gentry here is being challenged. Roots are being viewed as not necessarily permanent fixtures…

Is the Democratic Party of New York State really ready to confront and manage passionate sentiments like this?!

I think this election was a great deal about the North Country asserting its political autonomy from presumptuous establishments further south – which has to be rather exhilarating for them, but could also be a shape of things to come in state politics. This wasn’t so much a win for centralized Democratic authority over the Empire State as it was a win for (forgive the analogy) the range riders on the steppes. They may have put up the money for the win, but does the Democratic Party in New York really have control over all those independents who helped put Aubertine over the top? It’s still safe to say it’s going to take a lot of money to hold these seats — even though the Republican establishment in CNY has probably taken quite a savage whipping by proxy through young Will Barclay.

Really, for the Democrats to take ownership of the entire state legislature is a dangerous juncture for them. When you kill your enemy, make sure you know what to do with his serfs — because you’re freeing them.

12 thoughts on “Flip That Senator!

  1. Simon St.Laurent

    Much as I’d like to hear less of Joe Bruno, I’d definitely prefer to see the Republicans removed from the Senate by the voters rather than by party-flipping Senators.

    That wouldn’t solve the hard question of how to clean up the Senate once Bruno and cronies depart, nor does it answer the basic question of what to do with power.

    However, I’d much rather the voters remember having exercised that power than to have a few Senators feel even more important about themselves while voters wonder if the Democratic hold on the Senate is really legitimate.

  2. JS

    True, but anything that knocks Bruno out right now…is a good thing.

    Personally, I’m hoping it’s a trip to jail. :)

  3. Ellen

    Imagine how differently this could have unfolded though… if Spitzer hadn’t made so many mistakes in his first year, and was as popular/powerful as he was when elected, he very well might have flipped a couple of Senators just through his personal popularity; and there might have been no motivation for the Dems to put time and money into the 48th, etc. And that really would have kinda sucked.

    At least we can say, it was done in a fair and open fight for at least ONE of those seats.

  4. threecollie

    I think the entire concept of “flipping” a senator or any other elected official is an appalling betrayal of the voters. I have not and certainly never would vote for someone who flipped…even if they flipped to a party I preferred. Let them do it when they are out of office rather than offering voters one position, then choosing another.

  5. Robinia

    I agree, threecollie– the process as I remember it with Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann involved lots of special perks being dangled to “reward” the newly-minted Republican and her constituents at the expense of the rest of us taxpayers.

    Retire is what the old incumbents everyone is so tired of and frustrated by should do. They should make like Unc Joe, go visit Donald Trump and the rest of their gang in Florida, and tell stories to each other of the glory days while they are sousing it up at the nineteenth hole.

  6. Ellen

    Robinia, I think I saw a comment of yours on another blog (can’t remember which one) where you talked about how the negative ads for the 48th played in a great deal of markets far outside the district… did they really play down Ithaca way? (I can understand why they did in Syracuse)

    If so… wow, what a miscalculation. Everyone hates negative ads, and it seems to me (unsupported by any research) that they just drive people even more to shut out any of the ads’ claims and to vote for “the guy who’s just like me” — that is, the person they know in their bones is like them — probably, in the 48th, someone who didn’t seem like part of “the elite.”

    and now that negative crap has been spewed all the way down to Ithaca? Way to prepare for a fall campaign where every seat is contested! (not!)

  7. KAZ

    The ads did play here in Tompkins County because we rely so much on feeds from Syracuse and elsewhere. They were not well received, although they did alert many of us to the special election where our local newspapers failed to do so.

  8. Robinia

    Yeah, exactly. The media markets in Central NY are sparse and strangely-configured (although not as strangely as the political districts!). Willie Barclay did not make such a good impression for them– or, maybe it was Minarik’s media relations firm that left that bad taste. Anyway, looks like Bruno has a new PR guy– Frank Lutz. Maybe he can give them a makeover and nobody will recognize them come November. Hmmm. Their decades of incumbancy might be a bit of an obstacle there.

  9. Ellen

    Robinia… do you possibly mean Frank Luntz?

    If so, that’s yet another sign that the NYS GOP as we knew it is dying and is desperately trying to latch onto the national GOP (which, at this point, is also discredited…)

  10. Robinia

    Yep– Frank Luntz. Sorry, that was a typo from excessive speed. And, yeah, GOP is bringing in life support and starting heroic measures. I think they need a priest, but, hey, I was raised Catholic.

Comments are closed.