Connect with us

Published

on


The dynamics are not the result of choice or strategy but rather environment. The GOP is nearly decimated across the state, and with a polarized landscape on the heels of a Trump presidency, it might be impossible to find a GOP candidate who can appeal to center-right Democrats and independents — especially one who has the kind of financing and zeal Zeldin does.

The next George Pataki simply doesn’t exist.

“Right now, it’s beginning to look like searching for a unicorn, because such a Republican is not likely to emerge from the primary,” said Bruce Gyory, a long-time Democratic strategist in Albany.

On Friday, Zeldin notched another clear marker when he announced he’d been backed by Republican county chairs representing more than half the party’s weighted vote, positioning him as the party’s designated gubernatorial candidate if the support holds until next year’s convention.

It’s not the same as a nomination; any Republican who secures 25 percent of the weighted vote at the convention would automatically receive a spot on the primary ballot, and others would be able to gather petitions for a primary challenge. Ten potential candidates appeared on a poll the party sent out to supporters in mid-April, each of whom had been invited to an in-person vetting in Albany. GOP leaders have also set up times for candidates to come speak to their committees on a regional basis.

But Zeldin’s campaign is far ahead of his peers’. He has been courting local county leaders and hauled in $2.5 million during his campaign’s first 10 days. Zeldin met with the Republican Governors Association executive director Dave Rexrode on Thursday, and has picked up support from leaders of the small-but-powerful Conservative Party in New York.

The goal has always been to get a player in the game sooner rather than later, according to state party chair Nick Langworthy. And when it comes down to the most important factor in choosing a candidate, there’s really only one answer, said Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive who lost to Cuomo in the 2018 general election and is considering another run.

“Winning,” Molinaro said in an interview. “My message is very simple: We just have to be unified. This is not going to be easy no matter who the candidate is.”

Zeldin has not made an effort so far to downplay his record or connections.

When asked at the Albany vetting session about how his relationship with Trump and his anti-abortion record might play in a general election, Zeldin characterized them as distractions and said he would instead “triple down” on the issues that he says matter most to the New Yorkers with whom he has been speaking.

“They are saying, ‘if you don’t run, and you don’t win, I’m leaving,’” he told reporters and party leadership during the mid-April candidate forum. “And I’m telling you the issues that they are citing are issues related to the economy, issues related to public safety, issues related to education, and being embarrassed about the governor. And I’m just going to continue to focus on what New Yorkers are telling me they want me to be focused on.”

Still, there’s little question that a Republican candidate for statewide office in New York cannot simply rely on fellow party members to win a general election. Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, another potential candidate who has been aggressively wooing local party leaders, said as much during the forum in Albany, noting that bringing in Democrats would be vital during the general election.

Astorino speaks from experience — he lost to Cuomo in 2014 by 14 points. But the plan he floated for 2022 didn’t include highlighting bipartisanship as much as communicating the Republican message to a wider audience, maybe in Spanish, he said.

“Hablo español y esto es muy importante: because I’m going to be able to go into neighborhoods and espouse our virtues as a Republican, and talk about issues that are important, not just in the Hispanic community,” he said. He pointed to support he received from the NAACP and members of the African American and Hispanic communities during his past campaigns. “That’s how I won in Westchester,” he said.

For years political observers have theorized that if the GOP wished to break the recent Democratic monopoly on the governor’s office, it would have to follow the playbook of 1994, when Pataki beat Mario Cuomo as a pro-choice, pro-environment center-right candidate with a reputation for a quieter pragmatism that contrasted with Cuomo’s more dramatic politicking.

It was a different time; the Republican party had vital anchors across New York — a more vibrant presence upstate, failsafe Republican strongholds on Long Island, an incumbent U.S. senator in Al D’Amato, who functioned as a party boss, a healthy GOP majority in the state Senate and a new mayor in New York City, Rudy Giuliani, the first Republican to win the city’s top job since John Lindsay in 1965.

In theory, a well-funded moderate candidate — someone like central New York’s longtime GOP Rep. John Katko — could thread the ideological needle to pose a true challenge to a Democrat next year, said Gyory, the Albany political strategist. But first he or she would have to get through the primary, and that could lead to problems. More New York voters are affiliated with no party than they are registered as Republicans — appealing to them in a general election after winning over the GOP’s pro-Trump conservatives will be difficult, Gyory said.

There are about 6.7 million registered Democrats in New York, about 3 million registered in no party, and about 2.9 million registered Republicans.

Though Zeldin already clinched the support of several key county chairs, others who are still waiting on feedback from members said they, too, welcome his momentum and energy.

“I don’t think there is a slow button on Lee Zeldin,” Albany County Republican Party Chair Randy Bashwinger said in an interview. “He is very aggressive, a very energetic person, and that’s what we need … He’s proven he can win [downstate], and proven he can raise money.”

Richard L. Andres Jr., who heads the Niagara County Republicans, thinks voters want a “clear choice” between candidates because they are more clearly defining themselves than they were in ’94, when the parties were less ideological.

Republicans have pointed out that in 2020 Trump received tens of thousands more votes in New York City than he did in 2016, driven in part by gains in Latino-majority communities like the Bronx. But he still lost the state by more than 20 percentage points both years.

So this year, Republicans are banking on the idea that traditional issues — taxes and crime, for starters — will play better next year than in 2018.

“We’ve always felt that we’ve had a message that would appeal should we be able to get it out,” Andres Jr. said. With Trump in the White House, he said, the language from the party leader was “was so over the top our candidates locally couldn’t cut through the noise and there was no way to distinguish between his policies and our policies.

“Now there’s time before election day to do that. Midterms have historically went in favor of the challenging party and I’m hoping history repeats itself,” he said. “I’m a government teacher, I’m a history teacher. There’s a 150 years of history telling me its going to be a good year for Republicans, the question is just how good?”

Could Andres be right about history repeating itself? That may depend on who the Democrat will be. Cuomo said in 2019 that he intended to run for a fourth term and, despite the scandals eating away at his popularity, has not rescinded that position. When asked in March about his intentions for 2022, a his fellow Democrats began calling for his resignation in droves, Cuomo responded that it was “not a day for politics.”

The governor, who must contend with an impeachment inquiry and multiple criminal criminal investigations, is facing accusations of sexual misconduct and claims he hid the number of Covid-related deaths tied to nursing homes. Just 40 percent of New York voters say they view Cuomo favorably, while 52 percent view him unfavorably — a record, according to an April Siena College Research Institute. That’s down from 77-21 a year ago.

Should Cuomo resign or decide not to run for a fourth term, GOP leaders and consultants acknowledge that a fresh face in the form of Attorney General Tish James or Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would change the nature of the race. But, so far, no Democrat has declared a 2022 bid for governor.

The GOP is banking on running against Cuomo for a fourth time and counting on the idea that New Yorkers are fed up with more than a decade of his leadership.

That’s where some 1994 parallels do get to play. Pataki’s victory is widely attributed, among other things, to “Cuomo fatigue” that characterized Mario Cuomo’s third term. And Pataki ran on simple concepts that hit close to home: cut taxes, cut spending, snuff out crime.

That same policy messaging is relevant again in 2021, with the GOP assailing Cuomo and Democrats for raising taxes and passing controversial criminal justice reform bills when they regained two-house rule 2019.

Those issues and the general sense of exhaustion — rather than political affiliations — should be enough for anyone on the fence to support a change in leadership next year, Kings County GOP chair Ted Ghorra said.

“Taking all other factors out — New Yorkers need to think with their heads, and not their hearts,” he said. “Just seeing what one-party rule has done? It should largely be based on policy and common sense.”

Comments

Politics

Guinea declares end to latest Ebola outbreak

Published

on

By



“I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Based on the lessons learned from the 2014–16 outbreak and through rapid, coordinated response efforts, community engagement, effective public health measures and the equitable use of vaccines, Guinea managed to control the outbreak and prevent its spread beyond its borders.” The U.N. said it will continue to provide post-illness care.

The CDC welcomed the news in a statement.

“I commend the government and first responders in Guinea for ending the country’s Ebola outbreak,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Our heartfelt sympathies are with the people who lost loved ones to this disease. CDC remains committed to supporting survivor programs and helping strengthen global preparedness and response capacities that can prevent or extinguish future Ebola outbreaks.”

Continue Reading

Politics

Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency amid low turnout

Published

on

By



In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2.a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Continue Reading

Politics

Apathy greets Iran presidential vote dominated by hard-liner

Published

on

By



“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders and the lower participation in Western democracies. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord. Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also blocked from running, said on social media he’d boycott the vote.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Khamenei cast the first vote from Tehran, urging the public to “go ahead, choose and vote.”

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, voted from a mosque in southern Tehran. The cleric acknowledged in comments afterward that some may be “so upset that they don’t want to vote.”

“I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots,” Raisi said.

But few appeared to heed the call. There are more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran, a nation of over 80 million people. However, the state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has estimated a turnout will be just 44%, which would be the lowest since the revolution. Officials gave no turnout figures Friday, though results could come Saturday.

Fears about a low turnout have some warning Iran may be turning away from being an Islamic Republic — a government with elected civilian leadership overseen by a supreme leader from its Shiite clergy — to a country more tightly governed by its supreme leader, who already has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

“This is not acceptable,” said former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who sought to change the theocracy from the inside during eight years in office. “How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?”

For his part, Khamenei warned of “foreign plots” seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday. A flyer handed out on the streets of Tehran by hard-liners echoed that and bore the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. A polling station was set up by Soleimani’s grave on Friday.

Some voters appeared to echo that call.

“We cannot leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners and let them decide for us and create conditions that will be absolutely harmful for us,” said Tehran voter Shahla Pazouki.

Also hurting a moderate like Hemmati is the public anger aimed at Rouhani over the collapse of the deal, despite ongoing talks in Vienna to revive it. Iran’s already-ailing economy has suffered since, with double-digit inflation and mass unemployment.

“It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about voting. “Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again remain disappointed.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Right Wing Uncut by TSD