Campaign Trails

Campaign Trails

The Trump effect – I probably should have seen this coming, but it appears anti-Trump sentiment among liberal Democrats may have a profound effect on our local elections.

“Send a message to Trump. Vote Democrat!” is the full-throated rallying cry heard from the Catskills to the Hudson and points north and south. Who knew that all that Washington insanity would lap on our peaceful shores?  These are supposed to be “local” elections.

“I thought we had a pretty good record. We worked hard, but how do we fight this?” a Republican incumbent bemoaned at a High Falls fire department breakfast on Sunday.

Chow time – Democratic comptroller candidate March Gallagher and Bryan Rounds, unopposed for county judge, were seated near the scrambled eggs at the High Falls festivities, their fourth of five breakfast stops that day. Rounds is looking rounder all the time. Good for him judicial robes fit all sizes. Gallagher, locked in what some see as a close contest with Republican Lisa Cutten, is obviously leaving no stone unturned, or pancake.

Big bucks – News that a Washington-based PAC was spending huge in this year’s race for Ulster County district attorney really didn’t sink in until the Daily Freeman, in one of its more important journalism coups of the season, revealed from campaign finance reports that the left-leaning George Soros organization had spent just over $240,000 on glossy mailers on behalf of Dave Clegg.

It will get worse. These reports were filed early in October. The bottom line, which goes public two weeks after election, could well top $250,000.

But sometimes it isn’t how much you spend, but how you spend it. Tasteless negative ads against Republican Mike Kavanagh are turning off a lot of voters, maybe turning some toward the underdog. Truth is, Clegg would have been competitive without all this outside money.

By comparison, county executive candidate Pat Ryan will spend something more than $100,000 in the general election to secure the seat he won at special election in April for another four years.  Ryan spent an unheard of $250,000 in the special, all but assuring a walk-over against Republican Jack Hayes.

Early voting – As reported earlier, I had mixed feelings about early voting, but it sure is convenient. Riding around aimlessly Sunday afternoon, the wife and I decided to try it out at one of the polling places in Kingston. Business was brisk. It would appear that weekend voting, at the least, is here to stay.

Newspaper revival –A hopeless romantic when it comes to newspapers, I noticed a sharp increase in print political advertising this year over recent, particularly among weeklies. The Freeman did better as well, even as circulation continues to decline. The once proud daily has about a third of the circulation it enjoyed 20 years ago, according to Postal Service reports.

I often wondered why politicians eschewed newspaper advertising for direct mail, TV and radio, and now the web. Maybe because they were getting the extensive coverage print provided for free? Anyway, if this is a trend, may it continue.

In a league of their own – Kudos to the League of Women Voters for sponsoring and supervising the many candidate debates we covered this season. A progressive organization by long tradition, the league is scrupulously fair and balanced in the events it hosts.

I differ with the league on one of their hard and fast rules, however. If one candidate refuses to attend even after efforts to reschedule, the league then cancels the event altogether. “We think that’s only fair,” said league president Cindy Bell. 

Maybe, in one sense, but then the public is deprived of hearing from either candidate. And the league knows full well that there are candidates loath to face their opponents in open debate.

The answer, my friends, is written in the wind.

Talking baseball – I probably should have filed this item a week ago, not that it would have made any difference on the outcome of the World Series. Friends in Kingston advise that Houston Astros all-star centerfielder George Springer III is married to Kingston native Charlise Castro. Charlise, 28, a softball standout, attended the state university at Albany. Springer, 30, was a UConn standout. The couple was married in Kingston last year.