Apparently enjoying his lame duck status, retiring Ulster executive Mike Hein injected some mischief this week in suggesting there could be as many as five executives (counting himself) this year.
I thought a possible maximum of four: Hein, his designated successor, the person who wins the special election and the person who wins the general. Speaking at a Daily Freeman podcast, Hein suggested a fifth.
Let’s review the previous four possibilities.
There is Hein and Hein’s designated successor, chief of staff Adele Reiter. That’s two. Hein calls her a “stabilizing force,” which also means maintaining the status quo and, I assume, its secrets. She will not run in a special election or any other, sources say. There are three announced Democratic candidates: Patrick Ryan, a former congressional candidate, Patrice Strong, a former state senate candidate, and deputy executive Marc Rider. Several others have been mentioned.
The person elected in the special election serves out Hein’s term, if he or she so chooses. Losers in the special, or anybody else, can enter a Democratic primary in June.
Here’s where the fifth executive could come in. The person elected in the special is given, by charter, full powers of the executive until the end of the year. The person elected in the special has the right to resign after appointing his or her interim successor, as Hein did (or will). Another resignation gets us to five and, if within 180 days of Nov. 5, reliable Reiter for the rest of the year.
I find this a bit far-fetched, if not fantastic, because why would anyone with a leg up for the ultimate prize, resign? But if politics is fundamentally about means and ends, anything is possible.
Meanwhile, frantic scurrying has gone to warp speed what with Democrats announcing a Feb. 20 nominating convention, barely three weeks away. Whomever comes out of that unofficial committee vote, slated for the Best Western Plus in Kingston at 7 p.m., will be the “party’s choice” in the special, then only weeks away and a certified front-runner.
Republicans, who barely fill a phone booth at convention these days, will leave the choice to their five-member executive committee. As for oft-mentioned GOP possibility Jim Quigley, the town of Ulster supervisor will say only, “I get out of a different side of the bed every morning.” And presumably puts his pants on one leg at a time. Very, very carefully.