Here come the judge(s)

Ulster County Democratic leaders are feeling right bullish these days over the good possibility of retaining their two state supreme court judges who sit in Kingston. Why? Because word came through the grapevine last week that all seven county chairs in the Third Judicial District have agreed to support the two candidates Ulster leaders have put forth.

Here we refer to Kingston city corporation Kevin Bryant and David Gandin of Gardiner, court attorney to a supreme court justice in Poughkeepsie since 2013.

The two hope to succeed justices Chris Cahill of Ulster and Jim Gilpatric of Kingston. Cahill is retiring while Gilpatric, a former Kingston city judge, will “age out” (reach 70) this year. Under state rules, which strike me as blatantly discriminatory, judges are forced to retire when they reach the Biblical three score, ten.

Ulster will nominate its candidates at a virtual Democratic convention on Feb. 18. In the meantime, candidates will be plying their troth, even if the decisions have already been made at the highest level.

But, to paraphrase Harvey Keitel who played The Wolf in Pulp Fiction, perhaps the anointed duo should not start celebrating just yet.

There are months to go to the September judicial nominating convention in Albany and politics is, after all, the art of the possible.

Consider. These will be 14-year terms at $208,000 per. Plus benefits to die for. Bryant, 52, and Gandin, 50, God willing, will easily complete their terms.

However, while wishing our local hopefuls all the luck in the world, I find it difficult to believe that there aren’t at least 50 Capital District lawyers with political connections with at least a passing interest in a prestigious job that will pay close to $3 million over the next decade and a half.

Given that the incumbents were from Ulster, it is reasonable to expect that at least one candidate could be ordering those long black robes, the second, not so sure.

As for Republicans pulling an upset in the heavily Democratic Third Judicial District, unless they’ve got a Roy Bean hiding in the hinterlands, they might better focus on rebuilding what’s left of their base.

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NINA TAKES THE PLUNGE – It’s not official yet, but county clerk Nina Postupack will seek a fifth term this November on the Republican-Conservative tickets.

Deputy clerk to the legendary Albert Spada, Postupack stepped up when Spada resigned in 2005. She filled out his unexpired term and was reelected without opposition the last two times.

But the times they are a-changin’. A dozen years ago the major political parties were almost equal in enrollment. Now Democrats hold an almost 2-1 advantage. Many New York City transplants arrive here with particular voting patterns, there being more Red Sox fans in Gotham than Republicans. Put another way, upwards of 10,000 Democrats will likely vote Row A all the way in November.

To voters of that persuasion, Postupack’s commendable record of modernizing the clerk’s operation  over the past 15 years and putting Ulster’s rich history on display won’t matter as much as running another Republican out of office.

Footnote: And speaking of history, we mourn the passing last week of local historian Ted Dietz, 98. Ted was self-taught, but he wrote seven highly acclaimed books on Kingston’s pre-Revolutionary history, books that became valuable reference guides.

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MEA CULPA – Having been in the commentary business for some 50 years, I appreciate more than most that you’d better have your facts right before offering opinions.

Last Friday on our Me and Mario radio show I did an hour of reminisces on what I called the 20th anniversary of the death of former Kingston Mayor T.R. Gallo.

I thought it had gone pretty well until getting a note halfway through the succeeding interview with guest Kevin O’Connor of Rupco alerting us that Gallo had died on Jan. 22, 2002, not 2001. The caller said he’d checked it out on the web. Me, too, but for some other background information on the late mayor.

Ouch. 

We weren’t about to interrupt a really interesting and informative O’Connor segment with a correction, so I waited until just before we signed off.

Apologizing to listeners for the unforced error, I offered a piece of “political rationale.”

“I could say,” I said, as my co-host grinned at me, “that today is actually the beginning of the 20th year since T.R. left us.”

Even I don’t buy that one.

Again, my apologies.