Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Albany on the Genesee

What kind of government can we expect in Monroe County after Democrats take the County Legislature next Tuesday?

For starters, we'll see the sensibilities, priorities and, worst of all, policy approaches of the state government in Albany transplanted right here to Rochester.

One reason we expect Democrats to take the legislature is because of failure by the County Republican Party to hit this message hard. Their "taxes" ad hits it only as a secondary issue, focusing only on one part of the problem.

What Republicans should be running are ads saying:   "If you like the State Legislature in Albany, you're going to love the County Legislature under the Democrats."   Consider:

  • County Legislator Harry Bronson is an employee of the New York State Assembly.   He's the Leader of the Legislature's Democratic Caucus.   Bronson works directly for Susan John, who chairs the Assembly Labor Committee, which he serves as legal counsel.   John could have Bronson fired on a moment's notice.

  • Democratic Legislator Vincent Esposito is also an employee of the State Assembly, working directly for Assemblyman Joe Morelle.   He also can be fired at any time for not towing the line.

  • Democratic Legislator Glenn Gamble's day job is with the Baden Street Settlement, whose major funding comes directly from grants from Assemblyman David Gantt.   Nice little job you have there, Glenn.   Be a shame if anything happened to it.

  • Democratic Assistant Leader Calvin Lee holds the "Gantt seat" in the Democratic leadership of the county legislature and is a long-time Gantt loyalist.

  • Democratic Legislator Carrie Andrews is an employee of the United Teachers union, the State Assembly's conjoined twin.   They'd fire her in a heartbeat if Morelle, Gantt or John ordered it.   Just as Assembly members can't afford to upset UT, the union doesn't want to upset the Assembly.   A classic symbiotic relationship.

  • A majority of Democratic County Legislators have districts in the City.   Morelle or Gantt easily could take out any of them in primaries if either wanted to.   The Democratic county legislators all know it.
In short, most of the Democratic County Legislators risk losing either their jobs, or their office if primaried by Morelle- or Gantt-sponsored candidates.

The State Assembly owns these people.

We're about to become, more directly and tangibly than ever before, a colonial outpost of the worst state government in the country.


Anonymous said...

Well thought out discussion Philly. The only issue is that you shouldn't be so sure that the majority will change hands. You are really staking your reputation as "one who knows" on the outcome of this year's election. But this isn't the first time that you have been wrong. AND I bet that you wouldn't mind also being proven wrong this time.

Philbrick said...

Anonymous -- Thanks for comment. Thought I lost any possible claim to be "one who knows" two years ago, after confidently predicting David Koon would be the next County Executive.

If Democrats take the county legislature, I'll claim this post as a bold prediction. If not, then this presentation was merely stylistically creative license to make the larger point about how Dem county legislators have their peckers in the pocket of their State Assembly bosses (to use a Lyndon Johnson-ism).

And as I hope the post makes clear, you're dead-on right about my hoping the actual outcome won't be as predicted here.

repoman said...


It certainly seems that an approach such as you described, would have really tapped in to the deep antipathy to Albany politics.

Why do you think this opportunity was overlooked?

Anonymous said...

Philly, No Doubt that our local Dems would love to serve Monroe County up on a platter for their State Wrecking Albany Bosses. Do you think that they will receive a bonus from their bosses, compliments of the State and County taxpayers if their work pays off?

Anonymous said...

Repoman - Because the party has not had a sophisticated political strategist in control since the day Steve Minarik left.

Anonymous said...

Maggie tied a noose around her own neck.

Philbrick said...


I disagree with the last two Anonymous comments responding to your question.

But to address the answer, I think it's because they got to the idea generally, but muddled it up with the tax issue, which polling probably indicates is always a winner. Bottom line is that nobody on the GOP side thought through the Albany connection, and how to use it effectively, with the precision required to make it work to political advantage.

Of course there's an alternative explanation, which is that maybe the folks running the Republican campaign have poll results, survey and focus group data that indicate their approach is spot on. Data you and I don't have.

Still, for the ad they ran -- the one I linked to in the post -- I've already written (in my head) a Democratic response ad that would make GOP HQ sorry they ran it in the first place. However, Joe Morelle would have to pay me a LOT of money for it, and it's probably too close to the election now, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Serves me right for writing as Anonymous, the first two comments are mine and the second two are not. To answer your question of the Albany connection, it was once said that all politics is local. For some reason voters in Susan John’s and Joe Morelle's districts see them a local politicians and not the Albany problem. The connection of Bronson to John and Esposito (Vinnie, the clarification for Repoman) to Morelle is a simple one to make. The issue is, painting Morelle and John as part of the Albany debacle proves to be more difficult. My proof is simply this, they still win their districts. There is no doubt that these two assembly people are self-serving and serving of a party that has its interests vested in NYC and not in Upstate. So without the ability to complete the connection and to have the voters say “Ahhhh!!!” it is a losing argument.
If you still like the argument my suggestion is that you move into one of their districts, run for Assembly and spend a few hundred thousand to make that point clear to the voters of that district. If you lose, you fail to make your point. If you win, I will bow to your superior intellect and political insight.

Philbrick said...


A fine analysis. Like the way your mind works.

However, I think that to your analysis we must add this:

Of course Morelle and John win their districts. Their districts are gerrymandered to make it so. This is New York, where state legislators choose their voters, not the other way around. But we're talking here about what would be a County-wide message. Many of the competitive county legislature races this year are in districts with independent-minded voters and voters who get it about Morelle and John and Gantt being part of the Albany toxicity. They're not the reflexively Democratic voters that comprise most of John's and Morelle's districts and all of Gantt's. Enough of them should get it to make the message worth the effort.

Also, recall in my response to Repoman I made allowance for the explation, in answer to his question, that maybe GOP HQ takes the approach they do because they have access to information the rest of us don't.

Have to chuckle over your reference to "superior intellect and insight." We make no claim to either; we just say what we think. The rest is in the eye of the beholder. And we'd remind all beholders, again, that we're the ones who predicted, before Maggie Brooks was re-elected in 2007, that David Koon would be the next County Executive!

Thanks again for your comments. If you want to become a contributor to our blog, contact us by email. We extend the same invitation to the distinguished Repoman, but we know he has a blog of his own, that we know and like.