Marcing time

With all the speculation over where Ulster County Exec Pat Ryan might land, some pundits overlooked a more obvious wannabe just across the river. Last week Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro formally filed his candidacy for congress with the Federal Elections Commission. If nominated by Republicans, Molinaro would face two-term Democrat incumbent Antonio Delgado in the 19th congressional district.

I can’t make predictions just yet, but this much is certain: The next congressman from the 19th CD will be from Northern Dutchess County. Molinaro, a life-long county resident, lives in Red Hook, not far from his Tivoli roots. Delgado, a native of Albany County, lives in Rhinebeck.

In Molinaro, Delgado could face his toughest challenger since winning a seven-way Democratic primary in 2018. Grass roots Molinaro, still only 45, is a former Tivoli village mayor, county legislator, state assemblyman and two-term county executive.  His hopeless run against Andrew Cuomo two years ago was but a speedbump on what has been an ever-upward career.

This one has all the makings of a real barn burner. District polling began on both sides within hours of Molinaro’s announcement. Democrats have to be confined they have a winner in Delgado. What they and rival Republicans need to know before committing the tens of millions of Beltway money that could go into this campaign, is whether Molinaro has traction in a rural district almost the size of Connecticut.

Based on results from the gubernatorial campaign, it would appear Molinaro has what might be called “the rural edge.” Clue: though vastly outspent, he carried every upstate county (minus Ulster), except for the Big Five cities. Cuomo’s 5,900-vote plurality in Ulster was hardly impressive, considering Democrats outnumber Republicans by some 20,000 enrollees. Delgado carried Ulster by 19,000 votes against Faso.

With the House so narrowly divided and both sides going all out in a handful of swing districts, the 19th could be one of those battleground districts that decides next year’s majority in congress.

At the least, a Delgado-Molinaro contest will give voters clear choices. If they like what’s going on in Washington these days, by all means vote for Antonio Delgado. If not, give Marc Molinaro another rung on the ladder.

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MARCHING ON – I stand second to no one in admiration and respect for lawyers who donate their services to the poor, the helpless or hopeless. Called “pro bono” in the profession, meaning, Cher always stood by Sonny, a leading local example is county comptroller March Gallagher, also an attorney.

Gallagher, a Democrat running without opposition in November (don’t they all?) is pro bono representing the family of 23-year-old Hanna Berryann, formerly of Shokan, who suffered severe brain damage after being struck by a texting driver when she was 16. Gallagher is helping the family battle its way through a state bureaucracy which she says has denied her client the services she needs.

Supplemental this noble effort, state senator Michelle Hinchey got top of the front-page headlines for submitting (one-house) legislation aimed at untangling constapative red tape with new rules. In this, Hinchey follows a well-practiced strategy by her late father Maurice who would “file a bill” at the drop of a hat during his 18-year assembly career. (The legislature actually has its own printing department for such purposes.) Alas, thousands are filed but less than two percent of those bills reach the governor’s desk, according to legislative sources.

The question raised with Gallagher during our Me and Mario WGHQ morning show last week was whether she was practicing law, even for free, on company time.   Comptroller is, afterall, a full-time job with a six-figure taxpayer-paid salary.

Gallagher most emphatically assured us and our listeners that she did not do legal work of any kind during business hours. Good for her, and best wishes to Hannah Berryann for a full recovery.

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HERE AND THERE – In one of our more embarrassing on-air moments, co-host Mario Catalano and I completely forgot the name of one of our former state senators. No, it wasn’t George Amedore from Rotterdam up in Montgomery County, but Jen Metzger from Rosendale. Hard to believe Jen was a state senator only a year ago before her career went up in smoke.

She’s back. Gov. Hochul has appointed Metzer to the state’s marijuana control board from where she just might launch a comeback. I hope so.The man who defeated her, Republican Mike Martucci, seems to have disappeared into the wilds of Orange County.

Memo to Metzer: If you do do a redo, don’t take Ulster for granted.

Speaking of the state senate, there’s a proposed amendment to the constitution on the November 2 ballot that would formally freeze the number of senators at 63. It was 60 forever, then 61, 62 and 63 some six years ago. The assembly is set at 150 under the constitution.

My take is that representation should be flexible, not frozen. The senate moved to expand its membership when average districts represented shot past 300,000. That’s a lot of people for one senator to represent, but less than half the 740,000 constituents members of congress under next year’s reapportionment will have.   

Sometimes the world-wide web’s reach surprises me. A reader from Florida e-mailed to advice the late Mary Alice Cahill was secretary to former mayors T.R. Gallo (1994-2002) and Jim Sottile (2002-2011), who took office as alderman-at-large upon Gallo’s untimely death at 41 in 2002. I mentioned only Gallo, but he didn’t call.

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