National Public Radio’s Albany affiliate had an interesting story last week that appears to apply to a hot political topic in Western New York, but it didn’t seem to get any attention here. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is deferring on personal political activities and emphasizing his office’s work in conducting investigations into potential illegal activities of public officials. Schniderman’s office, of course, is a major player in the investigation of the political activities of Steve Pigeon, Steve Casey and Chris Grant that was the subject of the raids on their homes last May. Here is what NPR’s Karen DeWitt reported:
The state’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, says he’s made a decision to stay out of politics for now, due to a climate of corruption, and ongoing investigations by his office.
Schneiderman says he will not be endorsing or appearing with any candidates any more, as statewide office holders sometimes do. Both former leaders of the legislature face federal corruption trials next month, and the Attorney General’s office has, along with the state Comptroller, probed the actions of dozens of elected officials, some resulting in charges and convictions.
“I am not doing any endorsements or getting involved in any local races, because we’ve ramped up our public integrity investigations,” Schneiderman said, in an interview with public radio and television. “Since 2012 my office has gone after more than 70 public officials and their cronies.”
Schneiderman also explained why he has not involved himself in efforts to get the Cuomo-sponsored Women’s Equality Party off the ground. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has also avoided the issue of setting up the WEP.
The Attorney General says his decision to stay out of politics for now is one reason why he has not signed on to a new minor party created by Governor Cuomo, the Women’s Equality Party. That party has faced numerous legal challenges because the majority of statewide office holders, including Schneiderman, have refused to formally endorse the new party.
“It’s not appropriate for me to get involved in the inner workings of the Democratic Party or any other party,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman’s position on this is actually smart politics, and will not hurt any future political campaigns of his own.
I know – this headline seems to be a contradiction in terms. But it true, Congress really acted on several important matters this week, all in the space of about five days. The list:
- Elect Paul Ryan Speaker. Check.
- Resolve the debt limit crisis. Check, through March 2017.
- Resolve the federal budget crisis. Sort of check. Both houses approved a budget framework for both the 2016 and 2017 federal fiscal years. Congress still needs to approve 2016 appropriations bills by early December, but the approved frameworks should make that process somewhat easier.
- Approve continuation of the Import-Export Bank. Check. Supported by bi-partisan majorities in both houses.
- Approved a three-week continuation of funding for the Highway Trust Fund, as I suggested might happen earlier this week. This solves nothing yet.
The thing about all of this action (except for the election of Ryan) is that it was accomplished on a bi-partisan basis. This, of course, drives the far-right crazy, but compromise is the type of government that the Constitution was created for.
The Republican debate
I know that as a Democrat I am not supposes to be saying this, but the Republican candidates were pretty much correct that their questioners in this week’s debate went overboard. But it did make for a more interesting show, and isn’t that what the purpose was?
It is unlikely that some or any of the fourteen candidates will hurry to exit the stage, at least until the next debate that comes up in less than two weeks on November 10th. But it is pretty clear that several of the candidates don’t warrant further inclusion and will likely begin to feel the heat to get out of the race. The major impact seems to fall on Jeb Bush who has failed badly.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have come out as the winners from the third debate. It seems very plausible that, when the conclusion of the nominating process approaches next spring, things will come down to the two of them occupying the outsider/far-right and the establishment lanes of the party. The outsider supporters are by far the biggest part of the party. Cruz will be well positioned to take advantage of the eventual Trump and Carson collapses. Is it too early to be thinking about a vice presidential candidate?
The irony of this scenario, if it come to be, is that after seven years of lambasting Barack Obama as a young, freshman senator without a record of accomplishment that the Republican Party may find themselves nominating a presidential candidate who is a young, freshman senator without a record of accomplishment!
To keep it simple, this is what is likely to happen on Tuesday in Erie County:
- Turnout will be abysmal. Probably 25 percent or less, which would likely be the worst ever.
- Mark Poloncarz will be re-elected by a comfortable margin, percentage-wise at least. The raw vote margin will be small given the low turnout.
- The Republican coalition will continue to control the County Legislature.
- In the Family Court race between Democrat Kelly Brinkworth and Republican Brenda Freedman turnout, more than TV ads or anything else, will determine the contest. The Democratic Party, on paper, holds an enrollment edge in the county of approximately 133,000 over the Republicans, but there are 92,000 registered voters who are not affiliated with a political party. Approximately 90,000 of the Democratic enrollment edge in the county is from voters in the City of Buffalo, and there is only one race in the city, a Delaware District Council seat, so the city turnout will be incredibly low. Combine that with 92,000 independent voters and the likelihood of somewhat better turnouts in the Republican towns in the county and you have a formula for a Freedman victory. Jeremy Zellner and company have the work cut out for them.