Friday, June 02, 2006

NY GOP Implodes

I think it's pretty widely accepted that George Pataki should never be allowed to 'help' the Republican party in any way. Ever. Again.

But if you ever find yourself doubting that idea; if you ever think, 'gee, maybe he wasn't that bad,' or 'maybe we should let him run for dogcatcher,' then just remember this article from the New York Times:

June 2, 2006
State G.O.P. Convention Rebuffs Weld and Backs Faso for Governor
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., June 1 — William F. Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, suffered a major rebuke from his own party on Thursday when he lost his bid to win Republicans' backing in the race for governor of New York, though he still won enough support to remain on the Sept. 12 primary ballot.

Instead, delegates in the deeply divided party chose John Faso, a former assemblyman from Columbia County, by a ratio of more than three to two in balloting at their state convention here.

Mr. Weld had the tacit support of Gov. George E. Pataki and other party leaders, who encouraged him to run and pressured delegates to embrace him as their best hope against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the likely Democratic nominee.

In a roll call of the delegates, however, Mr. Faso won 61.2 percent to Mr. Weld's 38.8 percent, with 25 percent required for a place on the primary ballot. Mr. Weld said that despite the outcome, he would stay in the race.

Being the party designee is usually a nominal honor, but Republicans say it is sure to be consequential in this race. It elevates Mr. Faso against a former star of the national party, Mr. Weld, and Faso aides believe it will improve their fund-raising, media attention and endorsements, all of which Mr. Weld has had to a greater degree.

Most worrisome to Republicans is that the convention vote exposed tensions between the party's moderate wing, represented by Mr. Weld, and the more conservative members who support Mr. Faso. That split could undermine a party that has held the governor's office for 12 years and is likely to face a formidable challenge this fall.

Back in 1990, the Republican Party in the state of New York was falling apart. The party backed a political neophyte - businessman Pierre Rinfret - for governor. The New York Conservative party, which has often provided crucial votes to Republicans through the cross-endorsement of Republican candidates, saw Rinfret as too liberal, and a likely loser. They instead backed Herb London.

The campaign was an embarrassment for Republicans. London was clearly the better candidate (as I recall), and came within one percentage point of beating the Rinfret for second place, as Mario Cuomo won his third term. The Republican party Chairman in New York's Nassau County excitedly declared on election night 'we came in second,' because a fall to third place would have left the Democrats and the Conservatives as New York state's two major parties, under state law.

It was the nadir for New York Republicans.

Then, just 4 years later, Republicans and Conservatives both endorsed George Pataki, who beat Cumomo in a landslide. Pataki was re-elected with strong margins in 1998 and 2002, but the state organization failed to improve upon its standing. In 1998 Democrat Charlie Schumer defeated Al D'Amato for Senate, and Elliot Spitzer defeated Republican incumbent Dennis Vacco for Attorney General.

Now, history has come full circle. Republicans and Conservatives are again fighting over whom to nominate, and who is too liberal. Republicans have turned to a 'wild card' - former Massachusetts Governor William Weld - to attempt to hold onto the Governorship. And like Cuomo in 1994, a Democrat who appear to have significant weaknesses as a candidate seems destined for a landslide victory.

This is what the New York Republican organization has to show for 12 years of a Republican governor?

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