Drop out time

What do former presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand and once Kingston mayoral hopeful Ethan Scott Barnett have in common? Neither will appear on a ballot this fall, which, come to think of it, comes as no surprise.

Gillibrand wallowed well below the Mendoza Line (baseball jargon for the worst batting average in the league) for most of her lackluster campaign before finally pulling the plug last week. Positioning herself as a moderate in this year’s run to the left, the junior senator from New York never caught fire. Facing the possibility of being denied a spot in next week’s Democratic primary debate, she wisely chose discretion over valor.

In a field of strong, aggressive women, Gillibrand came across second stringer.  Nobody can match Elizabeth Warren for sheer energy or Kamala Harris for intensity. By comparison, Gillibrand looked like she was sleep-walking.

The sun will come out tomorrow. Reelected to a second term in a landslide last year, the 52-year-old senator can afford to wait out a few presidential elections until the pendulum ultimately swings her way. 

Closer to home, after making much noise during spring and summer, Barnett quietly drifted back to Accord after changing his voting address from Kingston last week.  Barnett, 26, had he remained a candidate, might have drawn votes from young disgruntled Democrats and was thus seen as a threat to mayor Steve Noble, the party’s choice for a second term. I have no evidence of this, yet, but would not be shocked if the outspoken activist popped up in the next Noble administration.

Barnett did leave us with a memorable line, however.   Posting on his web site, he described himself as a “cultural worker and a PhD candidate floating in the sea of destiny.” In fact, Barnett has floated off to Accord, destiny unknown.

Not to go Kingston-centric here, but breathless headlines declared last week that nine senior members of the Republican Party (about half its active roster) had bolted the party and thrown their support to third party candidate Vince Rua for mayor.

For the uninitiated, this is how the long down-trodden Kingston Republican Party girds for war: it defects to a candidate who had refused their party’s nomination. No wonder Republicans haven’t gotten close to electing a mayor since 1991, the year the Soviet Union fell.

Some perspective is in order here. It matters little what minority Republicans do in Kingston; Democrats matter. Which is to say, it would be big news indeed if nine (of 50) Democratic committee members had abandoned their party in favor of a third-party candidate.

Mayoral candidates will face off at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Best Western Hotel on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7:30. As usual, there’s a twist. Barnett, an impressive public speaker, won’t be there. Neither will Republican candidate Ellen DiFalco.  DiFalco, who communicates mostly via one-way email, wouldn’t give a reason for what would be an unprecedented no-show, but husband Joe says they feel she won’t get a fair shake at a Chamber function. Go figure.

So, it will be Rua vs Noble before the largest audience either candidate will face in this election.