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A vote that counts

A day or two ago, I got a robo-call from Bill Clinton, followed closely by Senator Chuck Schumer. Not telling me to vote for Barack Obama, but telling me to vote for Joe Addabbo. "Who?" you're probably asking, unless you live within two miles of me.

The State of New York has, like most states, a bicameral legislature. The Assembly has a Democratic majority at the moment, and the Senate has a narrow Republican majority. My state Senator, Serf Maltese, is a Republican, who's been in office for twenty-odd years and wasn't even challenged for re-election for most of those years. (He runs a stereotypically Republican, low-taxes-and-tough-on-crime platform.) Then in 2004 a relative unknown Democrat named Albert Baldeo decided to run for the seat. He got no support whatsoever from the Democratic Party, but came within a whisker of beating Maltese. So the party decided "maybe we should run against this guy after all." In 2008, Baldeo tried again, but the party machine heavily supported City Councilman Joe Addabbo in the spring, Baldeo withdrew from the primary and agreed to support Addabbo.

Then things got serious. Both candidates are getting lots of financial support from their parties, and probably from out-of-state contributors, because this election and one or two others could flip the State Senate to a Democratic majority. Together with our Democratic Governor, that could mean a lot of Democratic initiatives actually passing that have been bottled up in the Senate for years. In the past few weeks, we've gotten dozens of flyers, about a dozen robo-calls, a couple of telephone push polls, and two or three door-to-door canvassers, from both candidates saying increasingly shrill and implausible things about one another.

I've never had the experience of casting a Presidential vote that mattered, since I've never lived in a swing state when a Presidential campaign came around. It feels weird that this time my state Senate vote, as one of tens of thousands of voters in the district rather than tens of millions, is much more important.


I do live within two miles of you :o)
and every time I get one of those robot calls I want to write down the candidates name so I can vote for their opponent.
Today's mail was a deluge of negative ads about both Addabbo and Maltese. Is there a candidate who isn't an asshat around I can vote for?
Yes, I'm not enthusiastic about either of these guys. I don't know enough about Baldeo to say for certain that he would have been better, although I voted for him in the primary after he'd already withdrawn.

Among the more annoying things from Maltese,
1) a recent flyer that says "The special interest groups who believe criminals' rights are more important than victims' rights support Joe Addabbo because of his soft stance on crime,"
2) another recent flyer that lists a bunch of horrible things Addabbo has done, including "Welfare for Criminals. Addabbo voted to allow able-bodied people who do NOT work to get welfare ... [he] even voted to require our corrections officers to help convicted criminals apply for welfare upon their release from jail." [Both of these sound like good, practical ideas to me, but I guess I'm not the target audience.] Each item has a little superscript number, suggesting a footnote documenting the item, but there are no actual footnotes or evidence of any of the assertions.
3) a telephone "opinion poll" in which about a quarter of the "questions" were "If you knew the following statement to be true, would it make you more or less likely to vote for Joe Addabbo?"

From the Addabbo camp, the worst I heard was a robo-call announcing "alarming news about Serf Maltese: one of his top assistants was recently arrested for possession of child pornography. Can we trust a man who pays a government salary to a predatory pervert?"

And it's not entirely obvious that having the Governorship and both houses of the Legislature in the hands of the same party is a good idea, although it presumably means more will get done. Dare I hope for legalization of same-sex marriage or civil union, for example, by law rather than court decision?
I got the child porn message too, that seriously pegged my 'vote against the guy paying for this message' meter. Except that would mean voting for Maltese. The meter needle broke off and now it's jabbed under my fingernail.

Today's score...

One flyer from Addabbo (D) accusing Maltese (R) of opposing sex education.

Two postcards from local businesses endorsing Addabbo (D).

Two flyers from Maltese (R), which make an interesting combination. One accuses Addabbo (D) of wanting to raise taxes. The more entertaining one accuses Addabbo (D) being friends with a politician who has "not ruled out" cuts to school funding, even going so far as to say "I think everything is on the table." That's right: a Republican is accusing a Democrat of even thinking of cutting spending.

Of course, the Governor said the same thing yesterday, "everything is on the table," because -- guess where Wall Street investment firms and brokers pay their taxes -- New York State is looking at a $45 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. But the Governor is a heartless, budget-cutting Democrat too, not like those cuddly warm bring-home-the-bacon Republicans.

I have to wonder: if you're dead-set against raising taxes, and you're dead-set against cutting spending for schools or police or firefighters or corrections or senior-citizen services (all of which Maltese brags about protecting), and the budget is 15% in the hole, where do you make up the difference?