Republicans reach out Really?

If, as the Chinese say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Ulster County’s Republican Party, decades in decline, could be making a comeback.  But there’s miles to go before they reap.

For those who missed it, and apparently almost everybody did, the county GOP committee ran a quarter-page color ad in Sunday’s Freeman announcing this Saturday’s “voter registration drive” at Town of Rochester Veteran Park in Accord.

Republicans pursuing enrollees? Democrats do it all the time, but Republicans? Around these parts, at least, joining the Republican Party was like trying to get into an exclusive country club. Outsiders, which is to say everybody except hereditary Republicans of means, need not apply.

Have things gotten that bad for the Grand Old Party? Apparently.

Ten years ago, well after the 9/11 upriver surge, Republicans claimed 30,005 enrollees, according to the county board of elections. The latest figure places GOP enrollment at just under 27,900, a decline of seven percent. Across the aisle, Democrats had 37,880 members a decade ago, compared to 46,491 now, an increase of 22.7 percent. Overall county enrollment increased by almost seven percent. NOPs (Not of Party, or independents) remained fairly flat over the period.

The bottom line in terms of political calculation is that Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 19,000 voters now, a figure that will easily exceed 20,000 in presidential 2020. The prospects of across-the-board hopelessness may have finally galvanized calcified GOP leaders into doing something. Anything!

Saturday’s “Rockin’ for Liberty” barbecue, aka, the last train to Clarksville, will run from 4 to 8 p.m. with a $5 admission. Republican candidates Mike Kavanagh (district attorney) and Jack Hayes (county executive) will be in attendance.

Let us be positive, without being partisan. The long down-trodden Republican Party seems to be stirring around its grassroots. It would be a good thing if something resembling the return of a competitive two-party system emerges.

OOPS – I like to think I’ve developed a rapport with readers over the years. They’re loyal, attentive and quick to spot mistakes. And I mean quick.

Last week, waxing in nostalgia, I wrote that Sen. Arthur Wicks, retired in 1956, was Ulster County’s last resident state senator.

“I have two words for you,” a reader wrote, by way of correction. “Jen Metzger.”

Ouch. Democrat Metzer, a former town of Rosendale councilwoman, was elected senator last year in John Bonacic’s 42nd district. My apologies to readers and to resident Sen. Metzger. Let’s hope it isn’t 64 years before we get another.

On the assembly side, that reapportionment dumping ground called Ulster County has no fewer than four assembly members. Only one, Democrat Kevin Cahill of Kingston, lives within 30 miles of our borders. I expect that Cahill, with all his seniority and clout in the Assembly, will do something about that when reapportionment comes up after the 2020 census. And I don’t mean moving to the Red Hook portion of his district where he enjoys considerable popularity.