By Elizabeth Burke
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report
Next Tues., Sept. 14, is Primary Day in New York and in seven other states and D.C. New York is running just about everyone for every seat, with candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties, the Tea Party, the Green Party, the Independence Party, the Socialist Party (the actual Socialist Party, not Obama’s party), the Working Family Party (not under investigation), and the Conservative and Libertarian Parties. There’s someone for everyone! Seriously, if you can’t find a candidate who lines up ideologically with your beliefs, you aren’t trying.
Incumbent fever is running amok and no one is safe — unless you’re scandal-scarred or a homophobic old-timer. In Harlem, for example, there’s Rep. Charles B. Rangel, late of the infamous Dominican Villa and rent-controlled penthouse fame, with 40 years logged in the House of Representatives. At the Albany level, there’s State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., also known as Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., a Caribbean cowboy representing the Bronx with his own particular Hispanic brand of Christianity — and a barely concealed hatred of anything gay. These men are the front-runners in their respective races. Well done, Harlem and the Bronx! Although there are seven people running against Rangel, the size of the pack only helps his chances to win.
I’ve noticed Rangel is spending quite a bit more time than usual in his district — campaigning, going to parades, block parties, shaking hands, meeting constituents, doing the retail thing — even as none of his opponents seem to be able to break out of the pack , including Adam Clayton Powell IV, who is facing his own ethics issues. Powell, of course, is the scion of a political family: his father, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., lost to Rangel in 1970, after corruption charges tainted the elder Powell and opened the door for the upstart Rangel.
So with corruption spanning the generations, it is politics as usual in Harlem. Diaz, meanwhile, is a clown with cowardice and meanness running through his blood but he will undoubtedly be reelected. I’m disgusted by this. Enough said.
The race to become New York State Attorney General has nine candidates, five of whom are running for the Democratic nomination. There are several front-runners, including State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who has been endorsed by the New York Times and the Citizen’s Union, and Kathleen Rice, who is the extremely popular District Attorney in Nassau County. Rice has also outraised Schneiderman almost two to one: According to the most recent campaign filings, Rice has raised $5.56 million to Schneiderman’s $3.17 million. Interestingly, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the only other candidate with a shot at New York’s top law job, has not filed his campaign finance disclosure yet. The only information I found was on the 2010 32-Day Pre-Primary Report Summary Page, which disclosed he had $592,623.67 on hand and raised $47,235. Taking a lesson from Pedro Espada?
Of course, anyone taking lessons from the dishonorable Espada, who is running for reelection to the State Senate from the Bronx’s 33rd District, is a fool. This consummate and unapologetic crook can’t be bothered to file financial disclosure forms because he truly believes he lives in a banana republic and is El Dictator, complete with custom-made (and allegedly unpaid for) shiny suits and requisite cigar. Seriously, with Daniel Padernacht out of the race (but not off the ballot), if Espada challenger Gustavo Rivera loses, I will give up, throw in the political towel and write only of New Age-y feel-good life tips from here on in. Rivera has the support and endorsements of pretty much anyone from whom he’s asked. This is either a huge show of support for the upstart newcomer or there is such an overwhelming need to boot Espada back to Westchester that this is now Rivera’s race to lose. The crazy thing about the Bronx is there is still a large block of voter support in the 33rd district who will vote for Pedro the Player. These are the senior citizens who mistakenly think he saved their beloved centers — his insanely large family number of employees who probably fear for their jobs if they don’t vote for their Dear Leader.
There is really no race for governor, so I’m just going to start saying Gov. Cuomo. My mother is rolling her eyes right now, such is her disdain for that family. Me, I don’t remember Mario Cuomo’s rule, but I kind of like the gentler, less arrogant young scion. Yes, another scion — New York does seem to love family legacies. Just for fairness, though, let’s pretend to look at one of Cuomo’s potential Republican rivals, Carl Paladino — sorry, Rick Lazio, you don’t rate.
Paladino is the poor man’s Tom Golisano: after all, Golisano, who has run for New York governor several times, is a billionaire and Paladino is but a simple millionaire, albeit one who isn’t shy about throwing $10 million of his own cash at a dream. What is it with upstate rich white guys and their love of tossing cold, hard cash around? I would love them if they tossed some of that cash toward doing real good. Maybe send some of that cash to the International Institute in Buffalo, Paladino’s home city, which in 2009 assisted 12,740 people from all over the world to rebuild their lives. Ten million would help with the resettlement of those whose lives have been touched by tragedy, murder, rape and death in their own countries.
Then again, as a Tea Party candidate, Paladino probably would use those people back to their war-ravaged countries, as the man always says no to immigration.
New York’s two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are safe in their seats as there are no credible candidates posing a risk. Unless, that is, Randy Credico comes from way behind and through sheer force of comedy sweeps the election and clobbers Schumer with a get-out-the-vote comedy tour! Go Randy!!!!!!!! I’d love to see another comic in the Senate. Al Franken needs a buddy.
And speaking of Minnesota, you know I couldn’t wrap this up without a Michele Bachmann shout-out! Minnesota State Sen. Tarryl Clark, who is Bachmann’s opponent and personal thorn, has raised over $2 million since announcing her run for Bachmann’s seat, versus Mighty Michele raising $4,074,618 and spending $1.7 million to save it.
Clark, by the way, is coming out guns blazing with the outing of the actor who appears in Bachmann’s Jim the Election Guy ad. Yes, it seems Bachmann loved that big dummy of John McCain’s presidential campaign, Joe the Plumber, so much that she co-opted the idea for her TV commercials to talk smack about Taxing Tarryl. The TV ads have “Jim the Election Guy” explaining how Clark wants to tax your bacon, tax your food, tax your beer — you know, things that are never really taxed in real life. The dumbing-down of Bachmann really has become the dumbing-down of Minnesota. Oh, the actor’s name is Beau Peregino, a Maryland native now living in that town of sin — Los Angeles! (He also tried to get on Mad Men.)
So what else is Bachmann lying about? Shooting back, Clark found some real Jims — two actual Minnesota residents named Jim — and gasp, they’re non-actors. For more laughs over Bachmann’s actions and words, check out this great website: http://www.michelebachmannsaidwhat.com/.
Go out and vote, people! Exercise your right to vote for a scion, a poor millionaire, a shiny suit-wearing thug or maybe be brave and vote for someone new, someone with fresh ideas, someone who speaks after they think. There are choices out there — educate yourself, read, read, then read some more, ask questions, then vote.
To learn where your poll location is in New York, visit http://www.elections.state.ny.us/.
ÔªøElizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.