Sisyphus Shrugged - teh stupid, it burns
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teh stupid, it burns
Thank you for playing Pick My Senator, the exciting game where people who know precisely dick about politics in New York get to decide who represents me in the nation's deliberative body. Don Pardo, tell them what they've won:

1/23: This Wasn't What We Had In Mind...

Oh, the irony! After vigorously opposing Caroline Kennedy's Senate bid and cheering her ultimate decision to bow out, the netroots are now voicing concerns about Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom NY Gov. David Paterson just appointed to NY's vacant Senate seat. Many liberal bloggers are unhappy that NY's new Senator has such a centrist voting record -- particularly on social issues such as gay rights and gun control. They're also complaining that Dems "just lost an excellent chance to expand the progressive caucus in the Senate," since Paterson (in their view) could have easily appointed someone more liberal to represent the solidly blue state of NY. Several lefty bloggers are criticizing their colleagues who attacked Kennedy, since they believe that Kennedy would have been a far more reliable vote for liberals than Gillibrand will be. Al Giordano is particularly disgusted: "Each and every 'Netroots progressive' that railed against a possible Kennedy pick owns this one."

 
See, that there is so delightfully full of a dazzling array of fervent and authoritative totally fucking wrong that it's hard to know where to begin, but I think I'll go with how someone at the National Journal's Hotline thinks New York is a "solidly blue state" (although it's possible that opinion is being attributed to "many liberal bloggers," in which case someone at the National Journal's Hotline really should straighten out that sentence some)



That there on the left? That's New York State. The little red shapes? Those are counties in New York State which voted for John McCain in our recent national presidential election, which you may recall. The little blue shapes are the counties which voted for Barack Obama in that race, although in a lot of the little blue shapes on the top and on the left (and the one which contains the Hamptons) they only did it by slightly more than 50%. In two cases, they did it by less.

To put it another way, in a year when Barack Obama won 95 more electoral votes than he needed to be president, his margin of victory was higher in Nevada than it was in almost all of the roughly half the counties in NYS he carried. He still got 63% of the vote, but that's pretty much because the people who flooded the polls in the city and the bedroom suburbs had his back (you're welcome), except of course for Staten Island and aside for the bit where we supply them with water they're more or less Jersey anyway. 

Now I'd like you to look at another map.

That state over there on the right is also New York, but the counties are colored differently. Here, the blue counties are counties that shifted from their usual voting pattern towards the Democrats, while the red counties shifted towards the Republicans. 

If you compare the two maps, you may notice something interesting: some of the deepest shifts towards the Democrats occurred in counties that _still voted for McCain_

See, the reason New York was able to gift America with Ed Koch, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, Al D'Amato, Vito Fossella, Mike Bloomberg, the Rockefeller drug laws, a State Senate that sat in the palm of the Republicans for 69 fucking years before we got it back, um, last month (hey, d'ja hear they indicted Joe Bruno?), that nice Mr. Sweeney who led the Brooks Brothers Riot (until Gillibrand took him out), the '04 Republican National Convention, and Ms. Kennedy's little friend Mr. Sheekey who ran the Republican National Convention, is that New York is not, by any stretch of the imagination, even vaguely a "solidly blue state."

The differences between what we here call "upstate" and those of us hanging off the bottom are pretty stark. Large swaths of northern and western NYS are severely depressed financially, and have been for decades. The people who live there are pretty pissed off about that, and lots of them feel as if the state could have done much more for them if the richer, largely Democratic, areas of the state weren't sucking up all the money and the attention (we see it somewhat differently, but that's neither here nor there). That's how our Senate, which is, like the big Senate, not a representative body, stayed in Republican hands for longer than most people here have been alive.

Ever think to wonder how legendarily "solid blue" New York got centrist icons Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton as our Senators? Yeah, that would be it.

In '10? Our Democratic Governor, who you may remember became our Governor when the guy we elected to the job had a bimbo incident, is going to try to keep his job. Our Governor comes from Manhattan. Mr. Cuomo, our Democratic Attorney General, whose '06 opponent distinguished herself by capping off a spectacularly inept race with an FBI-recorded attempt to solicit a felony from Bernie Kerik, is going to try to keep his job. Mr. Cuomo is from Queens. Our Democratic Comptroller, Mr. DiNapoli, will be trying to keep his job. Mr. DiNapoli is from Long Island. What's at stake is not just control of one of the largest budgets in the country. It's control of one of the largest budgets in the world.

With that in mind, let's look at who the frontrunners to be appointed to the Senate were:

Caroline Kennedy (upper east side, Manhattan)
Andrew Cuomo (Queens)
Thomas Suozzi (Long Island)
Kirsten Gillibrand (recently won re-election to a traditionally red district upstate by over 60% against a self-funding millionaire former state GOP chair)
Carolyn Maloney (upper east side, Manhattan)
Brian Higgins (Buffalo, one of the few blue redoubts upstate)
Steve Israel (Long Island)
Byron Brown (also Buffalo)

Looking at it from Albany, that matters.

Now, none of this means that I'm enthusiastic about having a Senator to the right of the one I currently have, or that I think the state which supports Virginia's gunrunning should have a Senator with a 100% NRA voting record, or that I like the position she took on gay rights (although she's already said that's going to change now that she doesn't have to vote her district), or that I'm happy about her family ties to Joe Bruno, George Pataki and Al D'Amato, or that I think that people to the left of her shouldn't primary (as Carolyn McCarthy of Long Island is already planning to do) or that I don't think that progressives should donate to those primary candidates if they're so moved.

I do think that mounting effective opposition requires an understanding of the situation.

DFHs don't own this decision. Polls here were showing for weeks that statewide, New Yorkers were not interested in having Ms. Kennedy as our Senator, for a number of reasons, not least of which was the bizarre coalition of New York City's Republican-when-it's-convenient mayor (who needs a little popularity bump now that he's bought a shot at a third term New Yorkers have voted twice to keep the mayor from having), a national press corps faced with a disciplined non-leaking transition team and hurting for stuff to write about, and liberals from other states who thought it would make a nice thank you gift for her influential support of the Obama campaign (although contrary to what some folks appear to believe, the man himself never said he thought she should get the job).

Well, as noted, we voted for Obama a really lot here in New York. Had unusually high Democratic turnout. Very popular choice.

Barack Obama is not running for office in '10. A statewide team from downstate who are going to have to be the face of very painful cutbacks in a nasty recession are.

In the face of all that, the idea that people with blogs who didn't think a Kennedy appointment was a good idea - or, for that matter, people who don't vote in New York elections who thought it was - had any significant impact on Governor Paterson's decision requires a degree of blog triumphalism which I have to think would leave most of us at the very least nearsighted and with fuzz on our palms.

Please. Do the reading, K? txbai.
Comments
shelleybear From: shelleybear Date: January 24th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
They're also complaining that Dems "just lost an excellent chance to expand the progressive caucus in the Senate," since Paterson (in their view) could have easily appointed someone more liberal to represent the solidly blue state of NY.

The lower part of the state is blue, HOWEVER take a good look at the upper part.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: January 24th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
dood. This is what I'm saying.
shelleybear From: shelleybear Date: January 24th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Agreed.
As much as I like Peterson, he IS first and foremost a politician.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

Okay...

Sure, upstate New York tends Republicanish, outside Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany. But NYC+Long Island+Westchester+those upstate cities is over 60% of the population of the state.

Obama got 4,363,386 votes in New York. Of those, 2,795,162 came from Rockland, Westchester, and southwards - that's 64% of his votes. McCain got 2,576,360 votes. Of those, 1,246,103 came from downstate - that's 48% of McCain's vote in New York that came from downstate. In total, 55% came from downstate.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: January 26th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: Okay...

That's true. However: Democratic turnout is not guaranteed to be at the same level in a midterm election, and the Republicans are seriously motivated to get back the seats they need to retake the Senate.

I'm not saying that I think Gillibrand is the best candidate for '10, and if she doesn't lurch to the left (which would, parenthetically, put her to the left of the team in the White House in some respects) I'd probably vote for McCarthy myself. That doesn't change the fact that she was the candidate Paterson needed to be seen to choose.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: February 14th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: Okay...

Um, OK.

Obama's not on the ballot in '10, and we have Democrats running the state for the first time in a really long time, and two out of three top officials were appointed to replace someone involved in a scandal.

I'd like to see us hold those jobs. We don't, generally. That's why the Republicans have been running this state and my city for a long, long time.

and bluntly the dramatics of hobbyists going through campaign withdrawal and trying to game our Senate seat as a bit of methadone has not been helpful at all.
(Deleted comment)
shelleybear From: shelleybear Date: February 4th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: Here We Go Again

Those who attain power, but lose their souls.
fledgist From: fledgist Date: January 24th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
I think the choice of Gillibrand was pretty shrewd, although it did upset quite a few of my friends. She's not particularly progressive, but upstaters tend to view downstate with horror (for a lot of reasons that amount to 'they're a bunch of rich folk and welfare bums who leech off us').
jmhm From: jmhm Date: January 24th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Well, if progressives wanted a progressive in the spot, getting behind an actual progressive politician instead of pulling the air out of the room by trying to bigfoot the process so they could have a do-over of the primaries might have been useful.
fledgist From: fledgist Date: January 24th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
True. I wondered why Maurice Hinchey's name was never mentioned. But I don't follow NY state politics all that closely.
bugsybanana From: bugsybanana Date: January 25th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
I'm not sure why people are so upset by the "circus" this selection supposedly became. Paterson was entirely right to wait till Clinton resigned before making a choice, and the Kennedy hype wasn't his fault nor was it really in his power to shut the rumors down. Illinois was much stupider.
bugsybanana From: bugsybanana Date: January 25th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
And I forgot to add, all of this will be long forgotten by opening day at Citi Field.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: January 25th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Geez. Have you seen it? Shea is disappearing visibly every day and the new stadium looks like an abandoned shopping mall in a depressed exurb.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: January 25th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Oh, let's see: there are all the people who didn't get the job and thought they should have (and not a few of them are, except for geography, much better qualified); the people covering it who've had lots and lots of wrong stories fed to them by sources they have better access to than they do Paterson (Politico got burned particularly badly); the Kennedy camp, who by all reports wanted her to get the job and who were severely pissed off at the stories about Uncle Teddy's weakening health that might make it more difficult for him to pass healthcare reform, now that he has to pull it off on his own because they managed to drive off Clinton; the Moynihan revenants, who not only endorsed Kennedy but are backing up their BFF Mr. Sheekey, and who based on Mr. O'Donnell's attack on Kennedy family retainer Mr. O'Byrne in the New Yorker seem to be distancing themselves from the Kennedys, so I'd guess it seems more likely than not that the Uncle Teddy story was their attempt to save face; MoDo, who has apparently decided that Obama will forgive her for O'Bambi (and for the somewhat bitchy Kennedy "endorsement") if she smites his enemies, which conveniently enough for her lets her get back to blaming pretty much everything but her menstrual cramps on Hillary; Bloomberg, Sheekey's boss, who responded to her dropping out by talking about how much he wanted to have a nice talk with her husband (who he really likes) and whose role in all this has pretty much dropped out of the story, despite the fact that it was the big, badly managed, push out of City Hall that started her approval ratings plummeting; people around Cuomo, who now gets to look prescient for "staying out" of the mess; the NYS Republicans, who (in the person of announced '10 opponent Peter King) are demanding (I am not making this up) an investigation into why Paterson chose someone who was more conservative than a "mainstream" Democrat...

So far, the one of the few indignant responses that doesn't seem to be self-serving is the Voice, which is upset about her family ties to D'Amato/Pataki/Finkelstein/Bruno, as they should be (although I don't find the MSG connection as significant as they do, since Cablevision hired pretty much everyone on both sides of the aisle who ever met a powerful New Yorker who wasn't already lobbying for Bloomberg's stadium project, including Mrs. Clinton's at the time guy Mr. Axelrod, who has since moved on).

It looks to me as if a whole lot of people get not to look bad if this is all Paterson's fault, so that's where they're going with it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

Upstate/Downstate

I'm surprised at the backlash. I thought Paterson played it well. Here in Buffalo there was sentiment for Brian Higgins, but the guy just got on the Ways & Means Committee-- no way the Gov was giving up that clout. Byron Brown was a courtesy mention-- that wasn't going to happen.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

Sounds like Minnesota

Sounds like Minnesota. Minnesota has only voted for a Republican Presidential candidate once since 1960, but we haven't had a Democratic governor in 18 years, and over the last 30 years have had more Republican than Democratic Senators. Congress is now 3R + 5D and one of the Rs is the famous Michelle Bachmann, who makes Sarah Palin look sane.

I've also read (on 538 I think) that Minnesota's Democratic party is more liberal than most (like California's), whereas our Republican Party is more conservative than most. It leads to strange bedfellows, such as my mother's Lutheran church board which included two Nation-reading liberals and at least 3 Pat Robertson conservatives. (Oregon also has a version of this moderation of balanced extremes).
aitchellsee From: aitchellsee Date: February 14th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
T/o/t/a/l/l/y/angentially unrelated:

Occasional lurker here, who enjoyed meeting you on New Year's Day - may I friend you? I don't post much, but greatly appreciate new fodder for thought, and the enrichment of same that I derive from LJ friendslists, etc.
Also, I e/n/d/o/r/s/e/r/e/s/e/m/b/l/e///admire so much of your self-characterization in yr profile, esp the part starting with the hskpg :-)
jmhm From: jmhm Date: February 14th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
surely. I don't post much here these days, I'm afraid.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?
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Sisyphus Shrugged
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