A thinly veiled attempt by a Republican Party stooge to secure a line on the ballot under the Working Families Party failed earlier this month in the 105th Assembly District, but a similar ploy apparently succeeded in the 45th Senate District, where Christopher Consuello, a 22-year-old laborer in the Troy Public Works Department, beat out Democratic candidate Brian Premo in the Working Families’ Sept. 9 primary.
Who is Consuello? According to a story in yesterday’s Gazette, it’s not really who he is so much as who his boss is: Rensselaer County Legislator and Troy DPW Chief Bob Mirch.
Mirch is a Conservative who’s so chummy with the Legislature’s Republicans that they made him their majority leader. That helps explain who Consuello — who won’t return reporters’ phone calls; whose mail comes back as undeliverable with no forwarding address; and who didn’t bother showing up for the League of Women Voters’ debate — really is: a shadow candidate Mirch used to keep a Democrat from winning the Working Families Party ballot line.
What makes this and similar schemes so cynical is that Working Families’ positions on most issues are liberal — more typically associated with Democratic candidates than Republican. In fact, Democrats (like Mark Blanchfield in the 105th Assembly District race) are more frequently endorsed by the Working Families Party.
So when a young no-name with Republican ties comes along and contests the Working Families’ line but no other party’s, the odds are good that it’s just a gambit to deny some Democratic candidate the extra ballot line major-party candidates all seek.
There’s nothing illegal about such political gamesmanship, and it would be admittedly difficult to make it so: Anyone can change party affiliations at any time, there is nothing to require a candidate to disclose his motives for running, nor even to be honest. One would hope, of course, that people with a genuine interest in good government would refrain from gaming the system and insulting voters’ intelligence by trying to hijack third-party ballot lines in this fashion.