George Pataki. Photo
by Martin Benjamin
DifferenceDoes It Make?
the gubernatorial election only three weeks away, voters
have little information on what distinguishes H. Carl McCall
from George Pataki—and some progressives wonder whether
embracing a third party is the answer
Web site for Gov. George E. Pataki refers to him as an “exceptional
environmental leader in New York and nationally.” But is
Pataki actually an environmentalist? Many people assume
so. He favors dredging the Hudson River, has preserved nearly
400,000 acres of open space, and has been touted by fellow
Republicans and Democrats alike as environment-friendly.
However, his Democratic opponent for governor of New York
state, Comptroller H. Carl McCall, also considers himself
an environmentalist, and in general the two candidates and
the media have made little distinction between the two.
both candidates appear to be on the same page with reforming
the Rockefeller Drug Laws. And again, voters who prioritize
that issue have the appearance of having little reason to
favor one candidate over the other. But in fact, there are
differences between Pataki and McCall on key issues like
the environment, drug laws, and education reform. There
is a distinction to be made. But the task of sorting out
these differences is far from easy.
A quick search through the various databases and archives
of major newspapers in New York state turns up story after
story on the horse race with very few articles focusing
on the nitty-gritty of each candidate’s political platform.
Where do the two candidates stand on issues? What are the
key differences between them, why aren’t they talking about
them, and why should progressive voters choose McCall over
other third-party candidates? This is information one would
think would be at voters’ fingertips. But for the average
voter, finding these differences is about as easy as finding
a needle in a haystack.
What is known about the two leading candidates, after much
searching, is where they stand on a few issues such as education,
drug reform, the environment, and the economy. What we don’t
know is how different their positions actually are and how
the candidates plan on implementing these policies once
there are nuances and positions, the public doesn’t see
a whole lot of them,” says Lee Miringoff, director of Marist
College Polls. “I don’t think this campaign has been about
a particular issue, but rather whether people want to change
horses and move in a different direction.”
For example, Miringoff points out that McCall raises issues
about the economy and education, but so does Pataki, and
there has not been a consistent theme that voters could
easily point out that would make them realize that these
are two different positions.
hasn’t been a clear issue demarcation that has been drawn
in the minds of voters between the two of them,” says Miringoff.
“There are clearly differences, but it is not the kind of
thing where voters are seeing this. Most of the election
is about George Pataki and whether you want to give him
another term or not.”
Here is what we do know about the two candidates:nnnnnn
McCall is pro-choice. He has shown support for same-sex
marriages with full benefits and protections, and has said
that he will move to have the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination
Act turned into law.
Pataki takes the same position on pro-choice issues, and
has made no effort to ban so-called partial abortions in
New York. Despite his on-the-record stance favoring the
Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination act, many argue that
he has not pushed hard enough to turn this legislation into
law since he has been in office. Many question why they
should expect this to happen if reelected.
McCall and Pataki both argue in favor of reforming the Rockefeller
Drug Laws. McCall supported a bill, which passed the Assembly,
that would give judges more discretion in sentencing offenders,
put nonviolent drug offenders in mandatory treatment rather
than prison, and improve drug- treatment programs in prisons.
Pataki, on the other hand, is known for being tough on crime.
Since elected as governor, he has reinstated the death penalty
in New York state. He has pushed for stricter sentencing
for offenders and has abolished parole for violent offenders.
While he says he wants to implement sensible policies that
enable nonviolent drug offenders to serve their time and
overcome addiction in alternative programs, and generally
says he supports reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws, many
argue he has not moved to make these changes thus far. Therefore,
critics of Pataki say that this is all rhetoric that will
fall by the wayside once he is reelected.
Regarding the environment, it is hard for many to argue
that Pataki has not put his money where his mouth is on
many issues. Since in office, he has protected more than
300,000 acres of open space, has funded the EPA, and has
stood by the dredging of PCBs from the Hudson River. But
on issues such as global warming, refinancing the Superfund
toxic-cleanup program, and brownfield deals, Pataki has
taken a lot of heat from environmentalists for not doing
more. While he does ostensibly support the refinancing of
the Superfund, he takes a more pro-business stance that
most Assembly Democrats disagree with.
H. Carl McCall. Photo
by Martin Benjamin
on the other hand, calls for passage of a brownfield bill
that would make it easier for local governments to clean
up and redevelop plots that once were industrial wastelands.
His energy policy is geared toward reducing consumption
and would require utilities to purchase 10 percent of their
energy from renewable sources by 2008.
Few would argue that the most public difference between
the two candidates has been over education reform. McCall,
who has made education the hallmark of his campaign, has
pledged to increase state funding for schools by $8 billion
over four years. He also calls for smaller classes, sound
preschool and after-school education and greater school
accountability. In addition, his Excellence in Education
Scholarship Program will bring, he claims, 10,000 new teachers
to New York each year. However, he has been under fire from
the Pataki camp for a funds- redistribution proposal they
say would help New York city schools at the expense of upstate.
His plan has also been accused of being unrealistic without
a tax increase, something both he and Pataki claim will
not happen if elected.
McCall pledges to reduce tuition at state community colleges
by 25 percent, so that no student would pay more than $2,000
a year in tuition and fees. He also says that he will increase
state investment into higher education.
Pataki, on the other hand, has been under fire in this campaign
for a court decision that argues that some school districts,
especially large-city school districts, are not getting
a fair share of the funding that they deserve. The governor
appealed a decision that said that the courts could mandate
how schools allocated education aid. He won on appeal,
but the ruling contained a political embarassment: It said
that New York is required to provide only an eighth-grade
education. Pataki has backtracked and said that even though
he agrees with the decision, he would like to negotiate
a settlement. Pataki points out that under his leadership,
funding for New York schools has increased by $4.8 billion.
His Teachers For Tomorrow program seeks to attract and retain
educators through tuition reimbursement and funding for
But even with the issues laid on the table, many left-of-center
voters are not sold on the idea that McCall tends toward
progressive thinking, and question why they should pull
the lever for McCall over third-party candidates such as
Stanley Aronowitz, the
party candidate, or Tom Leighton of the Marijuana Reform
Party. Many argue that McCall has not set himself apart
from his opponent enough to pull in the progressives. Others
insist that Pataki has moved so far toward that center that
McCall appears more conservative than he actually is.
is not so much that McCall doesn’t have enough of a solid
Democratic perspective,” says Bruce Atschuler, chairman
of the political science department at SUNY Oswego, “but
rather that Pataki has moved so much more toward the middle
it has closed the gap between the two.”
problem is that if you talk about progressive voters’ point
of view, would seem that a Democrat would raise the issue
of taxes, which McCall has not,” says Atschuler. “Anytime
it is mentioned, he says it is out of the question. So some
of his ideas are a bit impossible without raising taxes
or without delaying some of the coming-in tax cuts, especially
given the current fiscal situation.”
Mark Dunlea, vice chairman of the New York state Green Party,
insists that the reason McCall has not been able to appease
progressive voters is simply because he is not progressive.
argue with me that McCall is a progressive,” says Dunlea,
“and I say, where is the evidence of that? He is down the
middle and not progressive.”
Party Candidate Stanley Aronowitz.
Photo by Joe Putrock.
says that his party’s candidate, Stanley Aronowitz, is a
far more progressive candidate than McCall on a host of
issues, from corporate welfare to the war to universal health
care, which McCall, he insists, does not support.
will not use his power under the state labor law to raise
minimum wage without legislative approval,” Dunlea argues.
“He only supports raising it to $6.75 an hour. We support
raising it to $10 an hour.”
While Dunlea admits that McCall is generous on some environmental
issues, the fact that he has not called for a shutdown of
all nuclear power plants clearly sets him apart from a true
progressive candidate. He also adds that although McCall
opposes the death penalty, while Pataki is pro-death penalty,
the fact that McCall has come out and said that if elected
he would not repeal the death penalty is quite a different
stance than what one would expect from a progressive.
support repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws, he supports some
sort of reform-type thing,” says Dunlea. “He failed to use
his power as state comptroller to vote the right way on
a host of environmental, labor, and human-rights issues,
and I haven’t heard him say one word about [campaign finance
reform].” Dunlea adds that to vote for McCall is to throw
away your progressive vote.
But Mark Mishler, who ran on the Green ticket in 2000 against
Paul Clyne for Albany County district attorney, disagrees
in part with Dunlea. He says that while McCall
still has a shot, progressives should give him their vote.
is a clear difference between McCall and Pataki,” says Mishler.
“On a number of issues he has proven to be progressive.
My goal is not to vote for the purest candidate but to figure
out, based on the real world, how my vote helps to make
In terms of McCall’s long-term commitment to progressive
issues and Pataki’s long-term commitment to the Republican
party and what that stands for, Mishler says that there
is a significant difference between the two administrations.
the commissioner is of the department of health or department
of environmental conservation or any other state agency
makes a difference,” says Mishler. “Who is appointed to
the Court of Appeals makes a difference in the real world.
So I think if there’s any chance McCall can be elected,
we need to vote for him and try to get him elected.”
difference, he adds, that is real and concrete and that
will affect people’s lives.
Mishler points out that one alternative that could help
force McCall to acknowledge progressive issues would be
to vote for him on the Working Families Party line.
Dan Cantor, executive director of Working Families Party,
explains that his party offers an alternative that forces
candidates to live up to the progressive values that they
claim to hold to during the campaign. He says that instead
of running its own candidate, the WFP endorses major candidates
and provides them with the crucial swing votes they need
to get elected. If the WFP-backed candidate is elected,
the party can point to all the votes it delivered and hold
the newly elected candidate accountable to WFP’s platform,
which includes economic justice, drug law reform, environmental
protection, corporate accountability, health care and educational
resources. WFP, he adds, is an alternative to bring Democratic
candidates back toward the left and not so close to the
is a way for people to vote with a statement,” says Cantor.
“You will be able to cast a protest vote that counts by
voting the Working Families Party line because what you
are saying to McCall is that my support is conditional and
I am sending you a message because I am not just a Democrat,
I am a Working Families Party voter, and that is a way of
showing McCall that a hundred thousand people in New York
state think it is really important to raise the minimum
wage or to pay attention to corporate accountability.”
But for many, the question still left unanswered is how
Pataki and McCall actually differ.
there are some differences between the two,” says Atschuler.
“But McCall has been sort of like Clinton, a pro-business
Democrat. He certainly is to the left of Pataki. But on
the other hand, Pataki has moved to being a somewhat moderate
Republican who’s more or less pro-choice. He does some things
on the environment and has increased education spending
and has picked off some if the traditionally Democratic
Gov. George Pataki is attracting the support of some traditional
Democratic allies, and blunting the effect of others—how
did he do it?
easy to forget the four-star conservative credentials Gov.
George Pataki had when he was first elected governor of
New York in 1994. In 1993, he was the only state senator
to receive a 100-percent rating from the New York Christian
Coalition. Every year Pataki served in the state Legislature,
he voted to deny Medicaid funding for abortions; in 1984,
’86, and ’88, according to the Westchester Coalition for
Legal Abortion, Pataki received the endorsements of the
New York state and Westchester county Right-to-Life political
action committees—and the benefit of RTL volunteers on his
After his upset win over Democratic incumbent Mario Cuomo,
Pataki burnished his credentials. He signed a bill that
reinstated the death penalty in New York state. He attempted
to slash family-planning funding in his first two budgets.
In 1995, his first year in office, Pataki cut 20,000 jobs
from the state workforce—remember those “Whacky Pataki”
shirts, showing the governor wielding an executioner’s ax
on a helpless state worker?
How is it possible, then, that Pataki now takes credit for
being pro-choice, and has earned the endorsement for reelection
of the Public Employees Federation, one of the two biggest
state-worker unions? Additionally, Pataki has claimed credit—and
earned acclaim—for his environmentalism and his outreach
to minorities. How did this happen? How did a Hudson Valley
conservative Republican manage to beguile so many traditional
Mike Paul, who heads a Manhattan-based public relations
firm, and worked for both Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and New York
City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the ’90s, credits Pataki’s willingness
to reach out to voters outside his own base. Democrats were
recycling the same old rhetoric, Paul argues: “ ‘Pataki
wants to bust up unions, he wants policies that support
only the top 1 percent of white males.’ ” But in fact, he
points out, Pataki was working to “give up a little bit
to get a majority.”
Indeed, Pataki angered many conservative Republicans in
April 2001 when he traveled to Vieques, Puerto Rico, visited
the Navy bombing range, and urged President Bush to stop
the bomb tests: “No mas bombas!” This action, along with
a concerted outreach program to Hispanics, has paid off.
According to a Newsday-NY1 Poll released Oct. 11, Pataki
has the support of 31 percent of New York Hispanics, while
his Democratic challenger, state Comptroller Carl McCall,
has 39 percent. With 20 percent undecided (and 7 percent
for Thomas Golisano), Pataki seems to have effectively neutralized
a traditional Democratic voting group.
On other issues, Pataki’s moderate appeal is more smoke
and mirrors—such as his position on abortion, for example.
Pataki was calling himself “pro-choice” as early as his
single term as a state senator (1992-94)—immediately after
getting campaign help from Right-to-Life groups. Despite
the fact that he has promised, as governor, to sign both
parental-notification legislation (which would require minors
to get parental permission for an abortion) and a bill prohibiting
so-called “partial birth” abortions, he has never been in
a position where he would have to—and as long as the Assembly
is controlled by the Democrats, he never will.
George Pataki points with pride to his record on the environment.
Indeed, environmental groups agree that it was the governor’s
intervention with the Environmental Protection Agency that
ensured that the EPA would force General Electric to fully
dredge PCBs from the Hudson—over 2.5 million cubic yards
of contaminated sediment over a 40-mile stretch of the river.
Again showing that he could cross his allies, Pataki effectively
sabotaged a compromise plan for a smaller dredging project
worked out between the EPA and North Country Republican
Congressman John Sweeney, and enraged many of his upstate
Also, Pataki has been instrumental in adding thousands of
acres of wilderness in an ambitious land-acquisition and
preservation program. Pataki often speaks of former President—and
New York state Gov.—Theodore Roosevelt as his inspiration,
and has spoken eloquently of his feelings for the environment,
especially the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks. Unfortunately,
according to many activists, Pataki’s commitment to the
environment begins and ends with land preservation.
is an environmentalist in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt,”
notes Jeff Jones of Environmental Advocates of New York.
“His land-acquisition program is commendable, and for real.
Environmental progress is a lot more complicated than saving
To many activists, the rest of Pataki’s environmental program
is almost nonexistent. For example, in 2001, Pataki appointed
a Greenhouse Gas Task Force and promised that New York state
would be a leader in restricting the gasses most directly
contributing to global warming. When the task force completed
its report this past May, however, the Pataki administration
chose not to release it. As Jones points out, Pataki “did
not deliver on the state program for global warming, or
on a plan to refinance the Superfund program, or effective
There are, according to EPA estimates, thousands of brownfield
sites in New York state—former industrial or manufacturing
sites, often located in urban areas, contaminated with toxic
chemicals, and thus currently unusable. As Environmental
Advocates point out, New York is the “only industrialized
state that has not enacted brownfields legislation.” By
halfheartedly pushing 4-year-old, inadequate brownfields
legislation, they argue, the Pataki administration allows
a problem to flourish that contributes to urban blight and
suburban sprawl, and encourages developers to build on “greenfields”—undeveloped
land. With regard to the Superfund program, which finances
the cleanup of the worst toxic waste sites, the Pataki administration
tied refinancing to a lowering of cleanup standards—thus
dooming a Superfund compromise with the Legislature.
If there is one group that the Democratic party can usually
count on for support, it’s labor unions. In this year, however,
Democratic nominee H. Carl McCall is distinctly lacking
the backing of some major players. The New York State United
Teachers—all 480,000 strong—are making no endorsement, while
the teachers union in New York City, the United Federation
of Teachers, has endorsed Gov. Pataki. Pataki has also been
endorsed by the Teamsters, the Hotel Trades Council, the
Public Employees Federation, and a number of smaller unions.
Despite the fact that more New York workers have slipped
into poverty since George Pataki has been governor—the poverty
rate increased, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures,
from 13.5 percent in 1990 to 14.6 percent in 2000—and despite
the opposition of the Pataki administration to any increase
in the minimum wage, labor unions are supporting George
Pataki’s reelection in numbers that would have been unthinkable
only a few years ago.
Some of this support might simply be an unwillingness to
offend a popular incumbent who seems likely to be reelected.
Much of it, however, can be traced directly to efforts by
Pataki to woo labor unions. The unions have been more than
willing to get romantic with the governor—some, for a price.
As longtime Democratic strategist and former McCall aid
Hank Sheinkopf told the New York Sun, “This is a
watershed election . . . labor unions are placing self-interest
No organization has benefited more dramatically from Pataki’s
election year strategy than 1199-Service Employees International,
led by Dennis Rivera. Pataki supported—and the Legislature
approved—raises amounting to $1.8 billion for the health
care workers of 1199.
like Carl McCall took these unions for granted,” Mike Paul
argues. “Pataki went to Dennis Rivera [and the union] and
said, ‘I believe that your workers deserve the increases.’
” As Paul sees it, this is why Pataki is succeeding with
traditional Democratic constituencies where national politicians,
including President George W. Bush, have failed: Pataki
backs up his rhetoric with a willingness to work with, and
make deals with, groups that wouldn’t ordinarily go anywhere
near a Republican officeholder.
Some of Pataki’s early supporters are not pleased. Bernard
Brooks, statewide coordinator for the anti-tax group CHANGE-NY,
puts it bluntly: “It’s unfortunate, the health care deal—it’s
essentially a payoff for Dennis Rivera’s endorsement.” Though
Pataki spokespersons have repeatedly denied any quid pro
quo, “payoff” is a common term for the deal with 1199; as
Victor Gotbaum, a former New York City labor official, told
the New York Sun, “This was an open payoff. . . .
Pataki went to Dennis Rivera and said, ‘Sign the check,
anything you want.’ ”
Probably the most shocking pro-labor move by the Pataki
administration—and, it must be noted, the Republican-controlled
state Senate—came at the end of September, when Pataki signed
a bill prohibiting employers who receive state money from
using it to finance efforts to stop union organizing. Employers
will be required to keep detailed records of the state monies
they receive, and prohibited from using any of this money
to hire lawyers or public relations firms to help prevent
their workers from organizing.
In recent days, McCall has attacked the governor for his
failure to support a minimum-wage hike, and what McCall
says are the job losses the state has suffered under Pataki.
Last week, McCall picked up the endorsement of the building
service workers, bringing his total union member support
to more than 800,000. Impressive, but the Pataki campaign
spokespeople claim they have the backing of more than 1
This is more than a matter of numbers. The unions backing
Pataki will be making crucial phone calls and get-out-the-vote
efforts for their candidate, while the neutral unions won’t
be doing anything at all. State Democratic party chairman
Herman “Denny” Farrell argued, in a statement released after
the health care workers endorsed Pataki, that when “it comes
time to pull a lever in a voting booth . . . health care
workers vote on policy, not politics.” He seemed to address
the unspoken reality that significant union efforts would
be made on behalf of George Pataki, however, when he added:
“Democrats have always executed a sophisticated operation
on Election Day, and we intend to break all . . . records
on behalf of our Democratic candidate for governor this
year.” Given the allies the Pataki campaign has lined up,
they will have to.
I Had $75 Million
B. Thomas Golisano become governor of New York by outspending
the other candidates—with his own money?
By Travis Durfee
Party Candidate B.Tthomas Golisano.
Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen.
has started his own political party, his ads seem to run
as frequently as network promos, and his name has become
synonymous with “billionaire Rochester businessman.”
But who is B. Thomas Golisano? What does he stand for? Why
is he spending what seems like so much money to the rest
of us on what some say is a quixotic campaign to reform
New York state government?
vote for McCall or Pataki is a vote for the status quo,”
says Ernest Baynard, a spokesman for Golisano. “The important
distinction is that New York voters are far more comfortable
electing someone paying for their own campaign rather than
someone paying for their campaign with special interest
and taxpayer money. [Golisano] stands accountable on his
The fact that Golisano’s political stock is rising may prove
Baynard’s point to be more than just campaign rhetoric.
Golisano won the Independence Party nomination for governor
in the Sept. 10 primary, stealing important third-party
votes from incumbent Gov. George Pataki. This defeat exposed
a chink in Pataki’s armor, according to the Golisano camp.
Pataki’s vulnerability was further highlighted by two lawsuits
filed by the incumbent claiming that Golisano violated election
law, both of which have so far failed to knock him off the
Golisano is making gains in the polls as well. A recent
public-opinion poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute
shows Golisano’s popularity with upstate voters eclipsing
that of Democratic nominee H. Carl McCall. Whether it is
his flood of political advertising or his issues that have
sparked interest, support for Golisano is growing.
American people love [candidates] who pay for their own
campaigns,” says Alan Chartock, publisher of The Legislative
Gazette and executive director of local National Public
Radio affiliate WAMC. “As a political scientist it appalls
me, because what happens is you create a system where money
talks and all others walk. But with that said, there is
part of me that buys the common myth. If these guys are
willing to put all this money into it, there is something
sort of neat about it.”
What Golisano hopes that voters find “neat” are his plans
to reform New York state government by improving the public
education system, cutting taxes and creating jobs. Golisano
believes he can accomplish all of this by ridding the state
political system of the influence of special interest money.
are reforming the budget process,” says Baynard. “Tom wants
to enact a zero-based budgeting system. Every agency will
have to justify every dollar they spend, just like a company.
This way money will be spent based on merit rather than
on political influence, which is the order of the day.”
Freeing the state’s political process from the grips of
special-interest money has been the mantra of Golisano’s
campaign. According to Baynard, the influence of this money
in state government is evident in Pataki’s coziness with
labor unions and companies doing business with the state.
made a deal with Dennis Rivera of 1199 SEIU in exchange
for an endorsement,” says Baynard. “Kawasaki Rail is doing
business with the state of New York and has given [money]
to his campaign. El Paso Electric, they’ve given to Pataki
and are awaiting DEC approval regarding a new power plant
that they want to start here.”
Baynard says the difference with Golisano is that he doesn’t
need to take, nor does he accept, contributions from companies
doing business with the state. While Golisano wants to stand
accountable on his issues, analysts have said the state’s
political system runs on elected officials washing the hands
of the private sector in exchange for public support.
can’t basically change the school aid formula,” says Chartock.
“There is a Legislature that does this. There are deals
these guys have made with the unions that will last forever.
[Former Gov.] Mario [Cuomo] couldn’t change it, Pataki couldn’t
Chartock refers to one of the apparently sound policies
Golisano has advanced during his campaign that critics fear
would have difficulty being implemented in state government:
the education-reform-oriented Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.
The program calls for reworking the state’s education budgeting
process, ensuring that state revenues from the lottery directly
go to the state’s education fund. Golisano claims, supported
with evidence from a 1998 New York state comptroller’s report
filed by McCall, that the state Legislature has instead
used lottery funds to justify a decrease in general education
spending. With this additional revenue—Golisano’s campaign
estimates it at $1.9 billion—students in New York receiving
a B average or better in high school would be eligible for
a free education at SUNY or CUNY schools.
Another of Golisano’s restructuring policies would allow
New Yorkers to vote on single issues rather than waiting
for a change in state law to go through the Legislature.
Passing a law allowing for initiative and referendum would
“open up the political system to voters, especially when
there are political logjams holding things up,” Baynard
says. The ability for voters to be able to change state
law on a single issue is one so desired in New York that
candidates like the Marijuana Reform Party’s Tom Leighton
and the Right to Life Party’s Gerald Cronin have dedicated
their entire campaigns to advancing narrowly focused platforms.
never had in New York an experience of a governor who is
not a Republican or Democrat,” says Dr. Jerald Benjamin,
dean of liberal arts and sciences at SUNY New Paltz. “That
would either be an opportunity for real change in New York
or completely immobilizing. If [Golisano] gets elected,
how effective will he be with the Legislature?”
Benjamin says Golisano would not be able to pass clean elections
and term-limits laws by himself. While Golisano claims these
reforms are necessary to rid New York government of career
politicians, Benjamin says, “Delivering on this stuff is
But Baynard insists Golisano will be able to prove this
point moot once elected. “Pataki has proven that the governor
has a powerful pulpit and powerful voice in Albany,” he
says. “He will garner political support using the full power
of the office of the governor.”
To get that opportunity, Golisano is continuing his campaign
for the support of New York voters, and it is costing him.
State board of election figures show the Tom Golisano for
Governor Committee has spent $39.4 million on his campaign
so far, and his camp has stated that he is prepared to spend
$75 million on this, his third, bid for governor.
In Golisano’s previous attempts in 1994 and 1998, he spent
$6.5 and $13 million, respectively. By doubling his spending,
Golisano’s percentage of the popular vote doubled as well,
from 4 percent in 1994 to 8 percent in 1998. And this year,
with his spending already tripling that of 1998, he is now
polling as high as 18 percent. So why doesn’t he go out
and, based on his previous spending returns, shell out $100
million-plus, and ensure victory by plurality? Political
analysts say it doesn’t work that way.
is not a pure determinant of outcomes in elections,” says
Benjamin. “Being rich makes him competitive and gives him
a chance, but there is no linear relationship between the
amount of money you spend and the amount of the vote you
Benjamin adds that Golisano’s ability to demonstrate competitiveness,
to convince the voters that voting for him is not a wasted
vote, is crucial to his campaign’s success. He adds that
Golisano has “done some very smart things in regards to
his advertising” and it has left an impression on voters.
Benjamin says that by portraying himself as a self-made
man and appealing to the middle class with his higher-education
proposal, Golisano may be attaining the delicate balance
of issues and image that could make him competitive on Election
am increasingly impressed with the sophistication of this
effort,” Benjamin says. “It’s not just spending money—someone
is thinking hard about how to spend it.”
Since pointing out the current governor’s fiscal irresponsibility
is one of the cornerstones of his campaign, Golisano hopes
that spending money wisely will resonate with voters.
changing the way the state does business and running it
the way a company should be run, he’ll get our fiscal house
in order,” says Baynard. “This is a much more common-sense
way to do business.”
Though he does not believe that Golisano will be New York’s
next governor, Chartock says common sense shows that the
candidate’s rags-to-riches-fueled popularity will definitely
affect the outcome on Nov. 5.
has great guns upstate,” says Chartock. “The election will
be bought and sold in the suburbs. If Golisano can bring
his conservative agenda to the suburbs and can pick up the
kind of momentum he’s got upstate, McCall will win the election.”