And the winners are…
Last week, I promised some more predictions on upcoming elections, but honestly, folks, it’s been slim pickings. For sure, voter interest will peak for this year’s presidential campaign – and let’s hope that local boards of election are up to the challenge – but locally, there’s only a handful of real races.
Democrat Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck will be seeking a second term in a district carried by President Trump four years ago. Delgado voted for impeachment, along with all but two Democrats in the House, so he’s apparently none too worried about blow-back on that score.
He’s done his homework, literally, hitting town halls all across the sprawling 19th congressional district to massive free publicity. Delgado will speak at the Ulster Chamber’s monthly breakfast meeting in Kingston on the 16th at Best Western.
Facing him so far, and it gets late early in congressional elections, is a newcomer some are calling “the unknown soldier,” former state national guard commander Tony German from Oneida. I’ll pause here while readers think, “who?”
Me, neither. “The general,” as he’s known, had a chance to light up Delgado and spark his base after he voted against Trump, but passed. If not then, when?
This one is Delgado’s to lose and he’s way too smart to do that.
State senate – Everyone’s talking about Democrat Michelle Hinchey’s campaign to replace George Amedore as Ulster’s dominant state senator, but let’s go northwest first.
Sixteen-term Republican incumbent Jim Seward, 68, is said to be eying the exits after serving just one term in the senate minority. Democrats took over the senate with a vengeance in 2018 and proceeded to treat minority Republicans the way they had been abused for decades. It will soon get worse. Democrats might actually add members to their majority this year and that group will reapportion in 2021. The district now includes the towns of Olive, Shandaken and Rochester in Ulster. If Seward thinks his current 51st district is “convoluted” now, to use Wikipedia’s description (it encompasses parts of nine assembly districts), he won’t believe the new one.
Waiting eagerly in the wings is Onteora area farmer Jim Barber. Democrat Barber declared Dec. 1 and hosted an enthusiastic crowd of supporters two weeks later at his farm. These are the times when all things are possible, but Barber better crank up that John Deere. The 51st is Republican country: Seward took two-thirds of the vote last time in a district with only a six percent advantage in Republican enrollment. Much of that is reflected in Barber’s personal popularity. If he goes, opportunity enters.
Michelle Hinchey’s quest to succeed George Amedore as 46th district state senator got off to a rousing start last summer in Kingston. The daughter of former Rep. Maurice Hinchey, candidate Hinchey, 32, is single, articulate, well-studied and right (for Democrats) on most issues, but perhaps a bit light on life experience. But unless Republicans come up with a blockbuster from Montgomery County or environs (like Amedore was), she’s the early front runner.
Jenny in the hood – I got a surprise hug from freshman Democratic state senator Jen Metzger on a sidewalk in uptown Kingston last week, which isn’t easy (she is in fact a warm hugger) because I get the sense the former Rosendale councilwoman doesn’t spend a great deal of time in Ulster County. Not that I’m complaining; we all understand that demographics rule and there’s more votes in Orange than the six towns Metzger represents in Ulster.
Nonetheless, Metzger is riding a progressive tide that, if anything, might rise this year.
People’s place – I arrived at the annual Kingston mayor’s state of the city address last week about half an hour early, as usual, to observe that at least two-thirds of the seats in council chambers were marked “reserved.” A front row was specifically reserved by name for elected poo-bahs and other VIPs, but that’s the norm.
I expressed curiosity to a city official about two-thirds of the chamber being closed to the general public for the mayor’s most important address of the year. “People called for reservations, so that’s what we did,” she said.
Oh. So, if other people seek a seat, of the street, as it were, people who also pay taxes to support the people who make these lame decisions show up, what then? Pound salt?
Uptown, they took it to a different level. Admission to the formal inauguration of Democratic county judge Brian Rounds at the cozy confines of the county court house was by “invitation only.” Salt, anyone?
Neither was an auspicious start for a party that preaches inclusion.