Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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.


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