Schenectady County

Local Obama supporters express joy

The apparent victory of Barack Obama in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination “brings

The apparent victory of Barack Obama in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination “brings me joy,” said Albany 3rd Ward Alderman Corey Ellis on Wednesday.

“It’s historical, being African-American, for me,” said Ellis. Growing up, he would hear people say, “You can’t be president.” The presidential campaign of the black senator from Illinois proves the contrary, said Ellis, who was one of the very few elected officials from the Capital Region to back Obama. The overwhelming majority of the state’s elected Democrats, including all statewide elected officials, supported the candidacy of home state Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ellis said Obama’s appeal and inspiration transcend racial issues.

Alice Green, another black activist in Albany, said, “Personally, I’m extremely pleased with the outcome.” She said, “It sends a very strong message to young people that you can achieve this,” but she also worries that the message could be misconstrued. Nominating or electing Obama, Green said, would not eliminate the racism and poverty that hold back many people. “We haven’t become the true democracy we aspire to,” Green said, and that will be true whether or not Obama’s candidacy is successful.

Ellis, who will attend the Democratic National Convention as an Obama delegate, said he is willing to accept whichever vice presidential candidate Obama chooses, including Clinton.

But local Obama campaign coordinator Anton Konev doesn’t want that choice to be Clinton, who he said “doesn’t have enough integrity to drop out” of the presidential race, even though Obama has beaten her. Konev also is going to the convention, although his bid to be an elected delegate fell short in the New York primary in February.

Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany, a Clinton supporter, said he hopes his candidate will drop out this week and endorse Obama. Clinton has been a good senator, McEneny said, and a friend who sent him a personal note during the illness of his wife, Barbara, who died in 2005.

“I don’t fault her in any way for going the full distance,” the assemblyman said. His youngest daughter, Maeve, is an Obama supporter, McEneny said, and campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire the week before the assemblyman campaigned there for Clinton.

On the Republican side, Chris Callaghan, the former Saratoga County treasurer who supported the presidential candidacy of John McCain even when the GOP establishment was backing Rudolph Giuliani, is not impressed by Obama, calling him “an old-fashioned, double-talking politician.” Obama, Callaghan said, can give “a barnburner of a speech,” but the content is nothing special. He criticized the Illinois senator for claiming to be against negative politics while attacking McCain.

Elliott Masie, coordinator for the Saratoga Obama campaign, said it plans a summer fundraiser in Saratoga Springs, with a day event at Saratoga Race Course and an evening event at one of the other venues in the city. The campaign will also be conducting voter registration on Broadway during July and August, he said.

Ellis said he expects the county Democratic committees, which supported Clinton, to be involved in the general election campaign for Obama. The national Obama campaign will make decisions about how the New York campaign will be organized, he said.

The Albany for Obama campaign, of which Konev is co-coordinator, stayed in existence after the New York primary to prepare for the general election. It held committee meetings Wednesday at its 92 Lexington Ave. headquarters, and issued a statement saying Obama would not have won “without the efforts of the volunteers across America and the volunteers of the Albany for Obama campaign. We have called every state that has had a primary for Barack. We were in Cleveland, and in Pennsylvania every weekend before their primaries. We have poured our energy, faculties and souls into helping Barack change our nation. Tonight the Albany for Obama campaign extends its deepest and heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters, donors, organizers, but especially all of our volunteers.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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