Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stick with Rick, Part III

A Response to “Lazio vs. Levy” http://capitalyr.org/lazio-vs-levy_37/

I must admit surprise at the volume of Republicans who are flocking to the recently announced gubernatorial campaign of Steve Levy. I am even more surprised at the shock that some of us oppose such a nomination energetically. One of my Young Republican colleagues recently shared his thoughts, and I wanted to respond.

“…some of [Lazio’s] supporters are furious at the NYGOP establishment for allowing and in some cases encouraging primary competition from a recently converted Democrat.”

The frustration, and even anger, that you mention needs to be addressed. It is not just that certain GOP leaders are willing to allow a challenge, or even actively encouraging a challenge. What rankles many is the decision to actively recruit a Democratic office holder, and a controversial one at that, when we had credible candidates within our own party. Please remember, Steve Levy is not just a recently converted Democrat, he was still a partisan Democrat while certain GOP leaders were actively recruiting him to consider running for governor. What does that say about these specific leaders that they feel they cannot turn to their own ranks, but have to look to the opposition for candidates? In baseball terms, if a team’s executives look not to their farm system, but to their opponent’s free agents, it is an indictment of their own farm system. As a Republican, I do not want leadership of our state party that shows so little confidence in what our own organization has to offer. We have a strong candidate for governor in Rick Lazio.

“[Levy] used the f-word a whole bunch of times, and put me down as being suitably outraged. Steve Levy is definitely NOT invited to my kid’s next birthday party.”

With all due respect, you are missing the important point. It is not simply a question of Steve Levy using foul language. It points to a larger deficiency of character and leadership ability. It was not that long ago that we were all subjected to Eliot Spitzer. One of the pervasive criticisms of Spitzer was his lack of flexibility and almost crusading zeal to address issues on his terms. His remarks to former Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco about being an “f***ing steamroller” were panned not just for being crass and rude, but for revealing Spitzer’s poor executive style. He was domineering, proud and vindictive. Not exactly the kind of qualities that will help one get a plan enacted.
These are the same qualities being highlighted by the Steve Levy quotes you point to. It is not just that he chooses to use vile language. Instead, it brings to focus the similar domineering, proud and vindictive traits that Steve Levy holds. How is he going to be able to work with leaders in the Senate and Assembly to enact a plan? I doubt he will be any more success than Spitzer proved to be in his short term of office. The political atmosphere in Albany can be caustic and noxious, and there is no reason to hamstring important reform efforts by championing a messenger of those reform efforts who will only serve to alienate the legislative leaders. Rick Lazio’s temperament is better suited for our current situation in Albany. I’m sorry that you fail to see that.

“Lazio also released a handy list of the ‘Top Ten Facts about Steve Levy,’ a number of which (perhaps even as many as 2) are substantive critiques of Levy’s policy positions. Any mention of Levy’s failures during his past six years as executive of one of the largest counties in the state is deftly deferred for another time, so as to sharpen the focus on the critical period of 7 or 8 years ago when Levy apparently toed the Democrat line during his term in the Assembly.”

Focusing on Steve Levy’s record while serving in the assembly is vitally important. While there are bound to be some overlap between county issues and statewide issues, what is most illuminating about a candidate is his track record on New York State issues. It is easy for Steve Levy to write a plan to appeal to the conservative base of the party and the Tea Party activists and the post-Scott Brown momentum. But how credible is a candidate’s plan when that same candidate has a proven track record of voting for the vested special interests in Albany and taking their money in the form of campaign contributions? (See Facts #1 and #6) Similarly, President Obama campaigned on talking points of bi-partisanship and post-partisanship, but his proven record in both the Illinois legislature and the United States Senate spoke to something very different. I would ask, which is the more convincing?
In contrast, Rick Lazio’s record as a Suffolk County legislator and as a congressman is completely consistent with his plans for taking on special interests while in the governor’s mansion.

“If Steve Levy becomes the nominee of the party, it will be a simple matter to turn the narrative from ‘traitor to his party’ to ‘true to his principles, rather than a label’- and the Republican party can benefit by treating his party switch as an opportunity to advertise to other fiscally conservative Democrats that they may have a home in the Republican party.”

It is debatable that Steve Levy’s nomination will draw larger numbers of conservative Democrats to our ranks than Rick Lazio’s nomination or election. And it will not be so easy to change the 'opportunistic' narrative for a larger audiance of voters if Levy cannot even convince Republican activists like myself that he is being true to his principles and not just positioning himself to ride a political tide this autumn.
But while we are talking about outreach, what I think is beyond debate is the effect Steve Levy’s nomination will have on the growing Hispanic and Latino electorate in New York State. One of the things our party has identified as important, is to make sure the GOP is inclusive and welcoming to all voters. (See the Report of the New York Republican Strategic Planning Commission, p.49-53. http://www.nysyr.us/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/NYRSPC_Report_Final_5-09.pdf) Given Steve Levy’s history of making inflammatory and insensitive comments, he will actually do more harm than good to our electoral prospects. To reform New York State, we need to be able to sell our vision of government retrenchment and fiscal conservative restraint to all sorts of different constituencies this fall. Rick Lazio can do that – his opponent, with his years of baggage, cannot.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Stick with Rick, Part II


Second, let us discuss the impact that nominating a Democrat, Steve Levy, over Rick Lazio will have on our party’s electoral prospects in 2010.

Looking at New York State, we have an enrollment disadvantage when competing against the Democrats. That disadvantage requires two things. First, it requires that we maximize turnout from our own party membership. Second, it requires cross over appeal to non-Republicans. I am confident that nominating Steve Levy would actually dampen both prospects.

Many Republicans in New York State are discouraged and dispirited after a series of less than stellar election cycles over the past few years. There are times when our party’s membership wonders aloud if their candidates and office holders truly stand for and fight for Republicans principles. We all witnessed the disaster that was the special election in NY 23 just a few sort months ago. Do we want to repeat a mistake of very recent history? Do we want to give the Republican nomination to someone who will not have the support of rank and file Republican activists and voters?

Consider the public concession that our party’s leaders would be making if they choose to support Steve Levy over the current presumptive nominee, Rick Lazio. “Our party is bankrupt of ideas. Our party is bankrupt of dynamic personalities. We have no other choice but to go on bended knee to a well known Democrat.” It is a desperate move. The Republicans of New York State would smell it as desperation. And what is most important – such desperation is unnecessary. We ARE NOT bankrupt of ideas. We ARE NOT bankrupt of dynamic personalities.

We would have a hard time motivating Republicans to turn out and vote this fall in maximum numbers if they see us in effect running up the white flag on the gubernatorial nomination.

Cross over appeal is another issue that we need to be aware of. Some have suggested that Steve Levy will appeal to his fellow Democrats to vote for him if he gets the Republican nomination. I am not convinced. He has a documented history of making insensitive and even inflammatory statements. Some significant members of the black and Hispanic communities have already come out in opposition to him as a candidate for statewide office. We should not look to a sub-optimal candidate that will automatically alienate those constituencies. How can he possibly draw in non-traditional voters to the Republican line on the ballot with that kind of baggage? I wonder if abandoning Rick Lazio for this candidate might not actually do more harm than good on this issue of appealing to non-Republican voters.

And let us not forget, these two effects that I have just outlined will not just be felt by the gubernatorial candidate. No, these will be felt by all the other races on the ballot this all as well: comptroller, attorney general, senators, assemblymen, local and municipal candidates. Republicans who stay home in November will stay home for all of those races as well. If we fail to draw those outside the Republican Party to vote for our highest profile candidate, our gubernatorial candidate, we do a disservice to all of our candidates on the ballot this fall, by hindering their efforts to draw on non-Republican voters.

2010 is too important an election cycle. Too important to recovering congressional seats across New York State to fight Barack Obama’s leftist agenda. Too important to regaining the majority in the state senate prior to redistricting. Too important to stopping the decline in New York State by retaking the gubernatorial office with a quality candidate. Too important not to stick with Rick Lazio.

Stick with Rick, Part I

As an active Republican, I have grown increasingly disturbed and disappointed with the prevalent rumors that some leaders within the Republican Party are considering jumping ship from the gubernatorial candidacy of Rick Lazio in favor of Suffolk County Executive – and registered Democrat – Steve Levy.

I think such a move would be incredibly counter productive for our party, and I believe that even the discussion of this proposal does a lot of damage to our prospects going into the 2010 election cycle. It is my hope that this series of postings over the next couple of days, discussing and dissecting the inherent problems in this situation, will dissuade leaders of the Republican Party from pursuing such a course.


First, I want to discuss the discouragement that the prospect of supporting Steve Levy over Rick Lazio can create. As a little bit of background, I take Rick at his word when he discusses his motivation for running for governor. He is not running for governor to position himself to run for some other elected office down the road. He is also not doing this because he has read the tea leaves and poll numbers. He is campaigning for governor, and has been since September 2009, because he believes New York State has some serious problems and needs someone committed to fixing them. He has stated numerous times his willingness to trade his future political viability for some credible solutions to New York’s governmental and financial straights over the next four years.

Where was Steve Levy six months ago? Was he showing his commitment to the rank and file Republicans by travelling around the Empire State to meet with activists and county committees? Was he selling us on his platform of ideas to reform Albany and save the state from years of abuse and neglect? It is very easy to express interest in running on the Republican line and being our standard bearer now, after seeing Democratic poll numbers decline and after witnessing the Scott Brown senatorial victory in neighboring Massachusetts.

Is this how we reward Rick Lazio’s commitment? Is this how we show our appreciation for his “sweat equity?” By considering discarding him for some other candidate?

We continually hear party leaders and pundits bemoan the lack of a “bench” in the Republican Party in New York State. There are expressed concerns that there are not enough up and coming personalities in the party to draw upon to run for statewide office. How can you hope to draw in more quality candidates to build a “farm team” and then successfully draw from that “farm team” to the higher profile races when we can witness how a candidate like Rick Lazio is being treated? Who will want to make the sacrifices for their fellow Republicans and indeed for all of their fellow New Yorkers if they see that they are likely to be treated like just one more interchangeable -- and disposable -- part. That would effectively discourage involvement and activism by the very members of the “bench” we claim we want to recruit and mentor. This is not a message we want to send. That is not how we build a party.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Young Republican Resignation Petition Exceeds 500 in under 24 HoursVoices are Clear - Demand for Spitzer to Resign is Resounding

Press Release: For Immediate
Contact: Stephen Canzoneri 516-353-1108
Date: March 12, 2008

Young Republican Resignation Petition Exceeds 500 in under 24 HoursVoices are Clear - Demand for Spitzer to Resign is Resounding

Christopher Dziedzic, chairman of the New York State Young Republicans, has announced that over 600 people have now signed a petition on their web site calling for Governor Spitzer to resign over the recent sex scandal.

“New Yorkers are speaking loud and clear—Eliot Spitzer needs to step down immediately,” said Dziedzic. “He is hurting his family and everyone in our state by remaining in office. The governor needs to read the writing on the wall.”

The petition went online (http://www.nysyr.us/petition.php) on Monday, March 10 at approximately 7:30PM and reached 500 signatures in less than 24 hours. It then hit 600 just before midnight on Tuesday night. A recent poll on WABC-TV in New York City says that over 60% of those polled feel Governor Spitzer should resign.

“The clock is ticking, Governor,” concluded Dziedzic.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Day 2 - Emperor Has No Clothes" - NY State Young Republicans Support Impeachment, Urge Resignation

Press Release: For Immediate
Contact: Stephen Canzoneri 516-353-1108
Date: March 11, 2008

Christopher Dziedzic, chairman of the New York State Young Republicans, today announced that he supports Assembly Republican Leader Jim Tedisco’s calls for the impeachment of Governor Eliot Spitzer on “Day Two – The Emperor Has No Clothes.”

“Leader Tedisco gave the disgraced governor until Thursday to voluntarily remove himself from office before impeachment proceedings begin in the Assembly,” said Dziedzic. “The governor needs to do what he knows is right and step aside to avoid such a thing from happening. Impeachment, while very necessary, will distract state leaders for other business. This needs to end now.”

Dziedzic urged New Yorkers to sign the petition on the New York State Young Republicans’ web site (http://www.nysyr.us/) urging “Client #9” to quit the state’s top post. “He has betrayed all of us and it hurts. Everyday that passes is another day that state government is halted,” Dziedzic remarked. The direct link to the petition is http://www.nysyr.us/petition.php .

“Mr. Spitzer is trying to use his office as leverage in his pending criminal charges. To that I say, ‘Stop abusing your office and your constituents. Haven’t we been tortured long enough?’” concluded Dziedzic.


Monday, February 11, 2008

YRs Help Barclay in Special Election

Over 20 YRs from across the country traveled up to Oswego this past weekend to help Assemblyman Barclay in his bid for the State Senate seat recently vacated by Jim Wright. Over 1500 voters contacts were made.

YRs went door to door asking constituents to support the GOP candidate Wil Barclay on February 26th.

More photos follow as does a link to watch the debate!

Watch the entire debate here:

Monday, October 22, 2007

YR targetted weekend in Yonkers

The NYSYR had another great weekend for our targetted YR effort in Westchester County. We had YRs from THREE counties (Broome, NYYRC, Westchester) on Saturday, 10/20 in Yonkers to help with the door-to-door efforts for Mayor Amicone and various city council candidates on the ballott this fall.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

YR targetted campaign weekend in the Cap region

We had a successful weekend for our targetted YR efforts in Saratoga & Rensselaer Counties. We had YRs from FIVE counties (Albany, Broome, Saratoga, Warren, Washington) on Saturday, 10/13 in Saratoga Springs, and YRs from THREE counties (Albany, Broome, Rensselaer) in Troy on Sunday, 10/14. We have some photos as well.

- Chris