Monday, May 18, 2009

Taking It to the Top

The Democratic crack-up over their party's nomination for Family Court judge has made its way all the way to the governor's mansion. Denied the Democratic nomination, Beth Walsh is now hoping to get Governor David Paterson involved in the fight, and is lobbying for the governor to appoint her to the seat.

With his approval ratings tanking, Governor Paterson probably isn't eager to get involved in an intra-party squabble, but that's what Rensselaer County Democrats are spreading their fight to the highest levels of state government.

Walsh, a former City Council member, was passed over to allow for Democrat boss Tom Wade to hand off the party nod to controversial attorney Richard Hanft. Hanft was beaten easily several years ago for Troy City Court judge and Walsh is believed to be gearing up for a primary.

Word in the local court houses was that no appointment would be made for Family Court, in part because of the ongoing state fiscal problems. With a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Linda Griffin, holding off on an appointment until an election decides the successor could save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The battle over the Family Court nomination is just the latest battle within the Democratic nomination. Last year, Democrats fought over the nomination for State Senate, with Wade's choice of attorney Brian Premo getting beaten easily in a primary by Mike Russo, who went on to lose to Roy McDonald. That primary loss gives Wade very little clout in stopping a primary for any position, as seen by Walsh's move.

And thanks to Walsh's move, no matter what he decides, Paterson gets dinged up. If he appoints Walsh, it costs him money and some support among the members of the party loyal to Wade. If he doesn't make the appointment of Walsh, it angers Walsh and her supporters. No matter what way they turn, Democrats in Rensselaer County and anyone within striking distance seem to be headed for trouble.