Some very wonderful observations gleaned from this year’s primaries:
• We learned that rescuing a stray dog from the river, then adopting it, will gain you favor with the voters, but nowhere near enough to get you elected state senator.
• Some of us got the feeling that the Albany County Republican Party should be sued for holding itself out as a “party.”
• We learned that state Sen. Roy McDonald was merely joshing when he did that Johnny Paycheck “Take This Job and Shove It” routine, and …
• We discovered that Albany County District Attorney David Soares probably could ride nekkid atop an elephant down State Street hill and the voters still would re-elect him.
Think about that last one: How could it possibly bother folks seeing Soares au naturel on a pachyderm if they were not affected by the array of issues faced by the district attorney this election cycle? A judicial censure plus a couple of admonishments for his intemperate comments. A little romantic involvement with a member of his staff. Questionable bonuses for some of his employees. His decision not to prosecute Occupiers Albany, controversial with many folks. The lingering impact of the DA’s bizarre Florida foray, making the Capital Region safe from steroids, of course, but also resulting in lawsuits that could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees and awards.
And even Soares’ supporters, if they are honest, would concede that the opposition candidate, attorney Lee Kindlon, made a pretty formidable challenger — on paper, at least. A Marine veteran with prosecutorial experience from his days with the Judge Advocate General. A family guy with a clean record. The know-it-alls, self included, looked at this race and declared confidently that this one should be super close.
Really? Super close? Fifty-seven to 40 percent is not close, friends. Soares, it seems, cannot be beat. He and his liberal friends have figured out the art and science of winning primaries, and even a guy like Kindlon stood no chance. Albany County Republicans should consider not even fielding a candidate against him. Oh, that’s right, the GOP has no candidate.
If a political party is defined as an organization that runs opposition candidates in important races, then how can the Albany County GOPers claim to be a “party.” No candidate whatsoever in big races like the Soares DA contest and the 108th Assembly District, where Cohoes Mayor John McDonald cruised to victory. By not fielding candidates, the Republicans give citizens no opportunity to register a protest vote and, given the low turnout in primaries, they allow those races to be determined by a tiny fraction, like 4 or 5 percent of the entire electorate, all of them Democrats. Nice, very nice.
Then there is Roy McDonald. Yes, he did tell us what we could do with his job in the Senate after he cast one of the Republican votes that put same-sex marriage over the top. But please remember that Sen. McDonald never has been accused of having thick skin and anything that’s said in a fit of pique is not enforceable. However, instead of facing the issue head-on — yes, I changed my mind, I voted my conscience, so kill me — Roy came off as defensive and angry. Ain’t sure if Kathy Marchione did it on purpose, but whatever her intent, she had Roy looking like the world’s angriest man, especially in the final two weeks, with those “swindled” ads.
Finally, the dog. Shawn Morse, chairman of the Albany County Legislature, was trying to get rid of state Sen. Neil Breslin in their Democratic primary. It was a very bitter race, with Morse claiming Breslin is over the hill, no longer an effective voice for his people, and, as if by magic, word got around about Morse’s youthful indiscretions, as in when he slugged a guy.
But Morse is a lot older and claims to be wiser now. He is a Cohoes firefighter, and what better way to soften his image with the voters than to relate repeatedly, in his radio ads, how Morse not only saved a stray dog that had been thrown into the river, but he wound up adopting the mutt when no one else came forward.
How did Morse make out? He lost to Breslin, 70 to 30 percent. The dog’s name is “Lucky.” He is not.
John McLoughlin is a freelance columnist and a veteran Capital Region journalist now at NewsChannel 13. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.