Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summertime Blues and Getting Waded

We have met the enemy…and he is us.

That must be what many Democrats in Rensselaer County are thinking. Last Thursday, May 24, county Democrats held an Executive Committee to endorse their candidate for DA. Many party regulars aren’t thrilled with the choice of Rich McNally for DA, and less thrilled the party has no candidate for Sheriff and the ethically-challenged Jim Conroy running for Troy mayor.

And those are looking like what passes for good times among Renss Co Dems. The party is headed for a major crack-up over a major battle for control of the organization. It all began last summer, when Tom Wade sneakily ended a power sharing agreement with Lynne Mahoney. Despite the jump on his one-time co-chair, Wade barely won the seat, which previewed this season’s troubles.

Wade’s heavy-handedness and inability to attract or keep quality candidates has many worried. His decision, discussed at Thursday’s executive committee meeting, to “purge” the elected chairs of Schodack and North Greenbush may prompt a war throughout the party’s ranks. Wade is upset with Schodack Chair Tim Nugent over his management of a party in a town where the GOP holds a commanding enrollment edge, despite some decent showings by Dems in state and federal elections, and bizarrely, Wade has sided with Ashley and CB Smith in a battle over the future of the Dem party in NGB. CB has even taken to penning letters for Wade and advising him on communications. Nugent was the party’s candidate for DA in 2001, and NGB chair Jeff Spain comes from one of the most respected families in the Dem party. With Wade’s blessing, Sand Lake bosses Frank Fleming and his daughter county legislator Flora Fasoldt are throwing solid vote-getter Steve Robelotto overboard to run Bill Reinhardt. The same Bill Reinhardt who was used in 2006 to box out Keith Hammond when Hammond wanted to step up to State Assembly after running several times for office as a Dem.

Thursday, Wade made it clear he is going full-throttle against Nugent, Spain and the others he has tried to brand as “disloyal”. And he also made it clear that he will move against Executive Committee members who dare disobey him, according to one with knowledge of the meeting.

The inexplicable knife-twisting by their party boss has led some Dems to call it “getting Waded”. And the fear of “getting Waded” is prompting some Dems to talk openly of defying their boss, including sitting on the collection of nominating petitions and support for the DA candidate. Splitting the Schodack committee will mean a big setback to the party in Southern Rensselaer County and the NGB battle is boosting GOP chances for a takeover by the day. The Wade-Fleming-Fasoldt faction may also be opposed by a group of Sand Lake Dems angry over the way Robelotto is being treated. And more focus is increasingly being given to the 2008 battle for leadership of the party than it is on the 2007 elections. All troubling for a party that had hoped for so much in ’07, only to see their party torn apart from the top down.