Schenectady County

Area Democrats come to terms with Clinton’s loss

Local Democrats reacted with sadness to the news that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid to become th

Local Democrats reacted with sadness to the news that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid to become the nation’s first female president is over, but they also expect the party to unite quickly behind Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Obama laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House. On Wednesday, a Clinton campaign official said she has decided to end her candidacy. She scheduled her announcement for Saturday.

Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton, one of the first mayors in the state to throw his support to Clinton, still thinks she is the strongest candidate. “But I will now do everything possible to ensure we have a Democrat in the White House,” Stratton said.

Stratton remains an alternate delegate for Clinton to the National Democratic Convention in Denver. He remains a Clinton delegate until released.

The convention runs Aug. 25-28.

Sharon Jordan, chief of operations for the city of Schenectady, coordinated Clinton’s local Senate campaign in 2000. She said she was saddened by Clinton’s loss, believing “she would have made a wonderful, wonderful president and there are many people who are sorry she won’t make the race.”

Fred Clark, first vice president of the Schenectady County Chapter of the NAACP, said the race between Obama and Clinton was historic.

“It shows the world the aspect of our racial and gender outlook is vastly improving. We sent a message to everybody in the foreign countries that people of all colors and gender have the capacity to be leaders,” Clark said. “I think in God’s eyes he is smiling down upon us.”

Many Democrats said an Obama-Clinton combination this fall would make an ideal ticket.

“It would make a powerful, powerful ticket,” Stratton said.

Brian Quail, chairman of the Schenectady County Democratic Committee, said Clinton’s name on the ticket would unify the party.

Quail added that if not named to the ticket, “The nation’s loss is New York’s gain. She will continue as an outstanding senator.”

Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner, a longtime Clinton supporter, said “it would be a much stronger ticket with the two of them.”

Jordan agreed: “It would be a good ticket. As far as I am concerned, I would like to see a woman on the ticket.”


Clinton has had a strong relationship with Schenectady County going back years, Gardner said.

The Schenectady County Democratic Committee was the first county committee to endorse her bid for Senate, Gardner said. He said the party’s Executive Committee in the spring of 1999 threw its support behind her, even though she wasn’t an announced candidate. Gardner was committee chairman at the time.

“It was one of many, many factors that helped her decide to run,” Gardner said.

In her Senate re-election bid in 2006, she easily carried Schenectady County, one of 11 upstate counties to support her, he said.

Clinton made several visits to the county and played an important role in helping to prevent the relocation of four C-130 airplanes from the 109th Airlift Wing in Glenville to Arkansas, local officials said. She also worked with local and state officials to keep Bechtel and around 200 high-paying jobs within the county.

Stratton said Clinton has been “wonderful for New York and has been a tremendously strong partner to me.” He said she helped obtain tax credits for Proctors and federal money for the Erie Boulevard project and to expand, retain and create jobs in the community.

Jordan said Clinton’s campaign went off track for several reasons.

“I honestly believe they were not prepared in the caucuses. They had no game plan for them,” Jordan said.

Obama racked up a strong lead of delegates from the caucuses, Jordan said. Clinton was never able to catch up, even though she won more primaries and delegates than any other woman in U.S. history.

Jordan said Clinton also ran a general election campaign rather than a primary campaign. She did not do enough to get out the core vote for the primaries, focusing instead on independent voters, she said.

“She just felt that was the way to win the general election. Obama was a big surprise to many, many people,” Jordan said.

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