Saturday, March 10, 2007

Democrats Write Off County Legislature?

Recent news of Democratic County Legislator Carla Palumbo's bid for a City Council seat may tell us about more than just her interest in succeeding soon-to-retire Bob Stevenson. Would Palumbo, now Minority Leader, be leaving the Legislature if Monroe Democratic leaders thought they had a chance to take control of the body in this year's elections?

A takeover by Democrats would make Palumbo, by all accounts smart and capable, the next Majority Leader. With a County administration in the Republican hands of Executive Maggie Brooks, it would make Palumbo the leading Democratic spokesperson in Monroe County, as the Legislature's counterpoint to Brooks. More significantly, it would make her a leading power in the Monroe County Democratic Party, as the person who could force the hugely popular Brooks to come to terms with Democrats in order to get anything done. And, of course, the person who could use the power of the majority to make life as miserable for Brooks as County Democrats would like to make it, wearing away at her popularity as much as possible over the coming four years.

Palumbo's going to give up that kind of influence and public profile to become a rookie member of City Council? Of course not.

More likely she's had a heart-to-heart with Democratic Party leaders and the consensus is: we're not taking the Legislature this year.

So Palumbo gives up nothing. She trades a frustrating life in the minority for a life on the City Council majority (or whatever you call it when only one party's represented -- a totality?) with the opportunity to get things done and work with a Mayor she's politically close to.

A savvy move by a respected player. And one that tells us that, after the fall election, the County Legislature stays in Republican hands. At least that's what Democrats think.

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