Wednesday, May 30, 2007



That’s the sound of the rug being pulled out from under the feet of Rensselaer County Democrats.

Tuesday, Democrats tried to put the best face on the already shaky Troy mayoral candidacy of “Jimmy” Conroy with a morning announcement downtown. But that announcement was over-shadowed by the big news later in the afternoon, with word that Hank Bauer would not run for District Attorney.

Instead Bauer gave his support to Greg Cholakis, who now has a clear path to the GOP nomination for DA.

Bauer’s move for unity means the Dems don’t get the bruising GOP primary for DA they were so heavily counting on. Dems were convinced Bauer was in for the long haul and their disappointment that Bauer would be a strong part of the Republican team was visible and real throughout the afternoon Tuesday.

The contrast, as we move closer to elections, couldn’t be clearer: The Republicans have a strong, united ticket. Democrats, under Chair Tom Wade, are facing a major struggle over control of their party and bruising leadership battles in several towns like North Greenbush, Schodack and Sand Lake. Democrats have a candidate for DA with far less name recognition than Greg Cholakis, no candidate for DA and the ethically-challenged Conroy running as mayor. Add that to a Democrat Council slate that includes a candidate who lost his bid for re-election when he ran on the Republican ticket, another candidate who quit less than midway through his first term when he was first elected in the mid-1990s and a third who is the subject of an inquiry by a special prosecutor.

Compounding the trouble are the shots Dems are taking at Marge Dergurahian, a GOP refugee who wanted to run for Council and Mike LoPorto, who ran for Council for Dems in ’05. This week, a Democrat blog strangely knocked LoPorto for failing to pay his taxes, and Marge was denied the opportunity to even run in her own council district.

The reason for the Dem dismay Tuesday was clear: Without the GOP tearing itself up, the disintegrating Democrats have less and less chance of success this fall.

Bauer ran strong in ’05, capturing the top spot on the Council and only building on his popularity in the nearly two years since his win. Bauer’s fundraiser two weeks ago was packed, showing he has a rock-solid base of support. Without intending to, Bauer’s announcement Tuesday stole whatever thunder the Conroy announcement would have had, and highlighted the ever-deepening tensions in the Democratic Party.