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Sunday, January 28, 2007
A State Senate Endorsement
The sudden vacancy in the 7th State Senate District has caused both parties to leap in with guns blazing. When the Republican incumbent, Michael Balboni, quit to join the Spitzer administration as chief of homeland security, the race to succeed him became instantly negative and hugely expensive.
That's because so much is at stake beyond just control of a single seat in northwest Nassau County - control of the Senate, for instance, where the Republican majority has been nearing the vanishing point, as well as the reform agenda of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who broke with a tradition of gubernatorial nonaggression in such races to appear in an ad hailing the Democratic candidate, Craig Johnson, as an ally in the crusade to fix Albany.
Mr. Johnson, who was elected to the Nassau Legislature in 2000 after the death of the incumbent - his mother, Barbara - is challenging Maureen O'Connell, who became the Nassau County clerk a little over a year ago and now wants to return to Albany, where she served as an assemblywoman since 1998. With very little time to campaign - the special election in Feb 6 - both sides are running at a frantic pace.
Their ads are studies in negativity, with Mr. Johnson's campaign accusing Ms. O'Connell of being as anti-choice extremist on reproductive issues, and Ms. O'Connell running a preposterous spot showing a woman tied to railroad tracks about to mowed down by a train. The train represents taxes, taxes, taxes, specifically the 19-percent increase that County Executive Thomas Suozzi pushed through the Legislature in his first term as part of his utterly sensible - and successful - effort to rescue Nassau's finances from decades of Republican misrule.
Of the charges being burled back and forth over the airwaves, we find Mr. Johnson's the more persuasive. Ms. O'Connell does have a troubling record on choice, having taken stands in Albany - like voting against as emergency contraception bill when it was in committee - that infringed on women's reproductive rights.
Ms. O'Connell's claims that Mr. Johnson's taxing madman are, by contrast, unfounded. The Suozzi tax plan he voted for was a prudent and responsible response to a fiscal mess. He has also assembled a credible record on other issues, including open space preservation.
The race is, though, about something larger - which is the reason the eyes of the whole state are on it. Governor Spitzer will need the cooperation of the Republican-dominated State Senate if he is going to make progress on the ambitious reform agenda that he has laid out. Mr. Johnson has vowed to be his ally in the coming battles, while Ms. O'Connell is likely to give reinforcement to the Albany status quo.
For voters who have hopes that Mr. Spitzer will succeed in fixing Albany, as we do, Mr. Johnson is the obvious choice. We enthusiastically endorse him.
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Here's the press release:
MOMENTUM BUILDS: NY TIMES ENDORSES CRAIG JOHNSON10 days until Election Day!
Newspaper Challenges O'Connell's Credibility on Taxes and Choice
Momentum is building for independent Democrat Craig Johnson's campaign for State Senate as The New York Times endorsed Johnson over his right-wing Republican opponent, Maureen O'Connell. An editorial in Sunday's Timessays:
"Governor Spitzer will need the cooperation of the Republican-dominated State Senate if he is going to make progress on the ambitious reform agenda he has laid out. Mr. Johnson has vowed to be his ally in the coming battles, while Ms. O'Connell is likely to give reinforcement to the Albany status quo.
"For voters who have hopes that Mr. Spitzer will succeed in fixing Albany, as we do, Mr. Johnson is the obvious choice. We enthusiastically endorse him."
The Times editorial also debunks O'Connell's campaign claims:
The 7th Senate District encompasses the entire town of North Hempstead. It also includes the communities of Elmont, Floral Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Bellerose, Franklin Square, and part of Hicksville. Craig Johnson, a member of the Nassau County Legislature, is currently running for the open Senate seat as the Democratic and Working Families Parties candidate.
- Ms. O'Connell negative spot on Craig Johnson's record on taxes is called "preposterous"
- "Ms. O'Connell claims that Mr. Johnson is a taxing madman are, bycontrast, unfounded"
- Ms. O'Connell, who has tried to deny an anti-choice voting record in the legislature has a record on reproductive health services that the Times calls "troubling"
Johnson has also been endorsed by Governor Eliot Spitzer, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lt. Governor David A. Paterson, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, State Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, People for the American Way, SEIU Local 32BJ, Communication Workers of America District 1, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Union of Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1500.
Update: I put a copy of the Times endorsement on flickr.
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