Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Election '15: Troy politicians need to read Santayana

As I write these words, it is a week before election day. One week ago, there was an uproar in the hometown, one that might just signal who will be the next Mayor.

But first, a history lesson. Four years ago, right around this same time, the GOP released a last-ditch attack ad against Democratic candidate and then-Rensselaer County legislator Louis Rosamilia, a former teacher at Hudson Valley Community College who was otherwise a political newbie. Rosamilia was holding a modest lead in a poll conducted on behalf of the Troy Record over Republican challenger Carmella Mantello, who is running for City Council this year. After the ad aired on the Friday before the election, the lead doubled, perhaps tripled. Ballgame over. Game, set, and election to Rosamilia.

In January, Rosamilia announced he would not run for re-election. He wasn't the Democrats' 1st choice to run in 2011, and he'd simply decided he'd had enough of politics. That prompted Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Wade to anoint another neophyte, Patrick Madden, brother of Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino (a Republican), as the party's choice for Mayor over Troy City Council President Rodney Wiltshire. Madden narrowly outpointed Wiltshire in a primary last month that also saw prodigal son Ernest Everett's chances disappear, not only in a poor showing, but the fact that he wasn't truthful about the signatures on his petition actually buried him even more.

Meanwhile, the Republicans chose Councilman Jim Gordon of Lansingburgh, knowing full well that should he win next week, there will be plenty of references to a certain comic book and/or Fox TV show in the press. Apparently, party leaders had to convince Mantello not to try a 3rd run at City Hall, having already failed twice, to avoid a primary. Local businessman Jack Cox, Jr., whose bid was blocked by petition issues raised by Mantello 4 years ago, rounds out a four man field (Wiltshire is running on the Working Families line), but few give him a real chance.

That brings us to now. A week ago, a 3 month old 911 tape of a call placed by Melissa Gordon, wife of the GOP candidate, was leaked to the press by a "Democratic operative" as a means of not only throwing shade on Gordon's campaign, but ensuring that Madden would win the election. The reader reaction in The Record has been predictable, slamming the Democrats for playing what amounts to dirty pool. All this says to me is that Wade, in his desperation to retain City Hall, is making a calculated mistake similar to the one that won it for Rosamilia in 2011. Like his GOP counterparts, Wade is forgetting that voters don't forget that easily. Not only that, but he should also heed the words of George Santayana:

Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

I can assure you of one thing. Rosamilia would not have approved of this kind of low-ball strategy. He is leaving City Hall in January with his dignity intact. In this writer's opinion, Madden & Wiltshire would cancel each other out, and Cox could siphon more votes away from Wade's Golden Boy. However, it will be the folly of a leaked 911 tape that actually decides this election. To paraphrase the Bible, the GOP gave away the 2011 election, but they'll take away the 2015 election.

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