Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekend Warriors

It is the weekend before crucial September 15 primaries for offices across Rensselaer County, and candidates were scrambling and hustling to get whatever edge they could before polls open at high noon on Tuesday.

The most attention is focused on a battle for the Democratic nomination for Family Court Judge between unpopular Governor David Paterson's choice for judge, controversial Troy attorney Richard Hanft, former Troy Councilwoman Beth Walsh and newcomer Gerri Pomerantz.

The stakes in the race are high, with Democratic Chairman Tom Wade backing Paterson's pick, Hanft, while Wade opponents in the party are lining up behind Walsh and Pomerantz. After seeing his pick for State Senate, Brian Premo, get blown out in a primary for the Democratic nomination by Mike Russo, Wade could be in big trouble if Hanft gets blown out on Tuesday.

To avoid that, Hanft was relying on automated phone calls by former Congressman Mike McNulty. Pomerantz was drawing on support from unions and Walsh has been up on radio for several days. Democrats said the strong advance of Pomerantz surprised them, and how flat the Hanft campaign has been, especially considering Hanft would have the relative advantage of incumbency.

The winner of the Democrat Family Court primary will face Arthur Dunn, who will at least have the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines heading toward Election Day. Dunn is also vying against Hanft, Pomerantz and Walsh for the Working Families nod.

There are Working Families primaries for County Legislature, but the legislative race drawing attention is the eight-way battle for the Democratic nomination in Troy. The primary was forced by popular City Chairman Frank LaPosta and his ally Dan Doran and one victim of the contest could be Third District Councilman Pete Ryan, who is making a run for Legislature. Many Democrats were writing off Ryan after he drew the 8th spot in the primary.

The primaries will mean more fractures and disharmony among Democrats who are already falling behind the GOP in the 2009 elections. Wade had boasted at the start of 2009 about gains the Democrats would make, only to fail to draw candidates for County Executive or County Clerk and lag far behind Republicans in campaign cash. Most political observers expect Primary Day will end up with the GOP picking up more nominations and gaining even more momentum.