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PHOTO: Alicia Solsman

2006 General Election Endorsements

On Election Day, (Tuesday, Nov. 7), polls will be open in Albany County and throughout the Capital Region from 6 AM to 9 PM.



United States Senate: Howie Hawkins

Yes, assuring the Democrats gain a majority in the House and the Senate is imperative in order to ensure that the Bush administration’s irresponsible policies are kept in check. However, realistically, we know Clinton is not in danger of losing; the only question now is by how great a percentage she will win. What is not clear is how much difference Clinton will make on issues like the war in Iraq, especially since she has yet to say she regrets her vote for the war or whether she thinks we should still be in Iraq. Clinton has deftly avoided any substance in her campaign, riding a wave of celebrity back into her current office and possibly into the White House. But one candidate is talking about the issues that are important. One candidate wants to end the botched war in Iraq and ensure Americans have access to health care, and that candidate is Howie Hawkins.


PHOTO: Chris Shields

U.S. House of Representatives, 20th Congressional District: Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand has defied our expectations: We are not used to candidates with the kind of thoughtful, precise positions on important issues like the war in Iraq and the health-care crisis that Gillibrand has. She is a candidate any district would be lucky to have, but thanks to the unethical behavior, pathetic record and dim light of incumbent John Sweeney, the 20th district may need her just a little more than any other. Sweeney, who led the pack of thugs who halted a legal recount in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, has never had to fight to win or keep this seat—until now. And many consituents, this time around, seem generally fed up by his support of Bush administration policies (in spite of recent attempts to distance himself) and, especially, his questionable ethics. From his expenses-paid trip to the Marianas Islands and association with Jack Abramoff to his well-documented drinking, driving and domestic escapades—which might be more forgivable if he admitted to them and didn’t blame them on a conspiracy of his political opponents—Sweeney has been plagued relentlessly by problems of his own making. Even his skill at bringing home the pork may not save him this time. We heartily endorse Kirsten Gillibrand because she is a candidate of intelligence and ideas who understands the consequences of both her own and of her country’s actions.

U.S. House of Representatives, 21st Congressional District: Michael McNulty

We have not always endorsed Democratic Rep. Michael McNulty during his 18-year tenure as U.S. congressman—among other transgressions, he once supported Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America—and we were not impressed with his initial support for the Iraq war. But if there’s one thing McNulty has taught us during the past two years, it’s that it’s OK to change your mind. Most critically, he changed his stance on the war in Iraq; in fact he has emerged as one of the more outspoken Democratic critics. Add to this his generally commendable record on labor and veterans’ issues, his progressive approach to taxation and fiscal policy, his opposition to sprawl, and his scandal-free character (even after 18 years in Congress), and we can overlook his social conservatism. If the Democrats take control of the House, McNulty’s seniority will count, too—he likely would become chair of one of the more prominent Ways and Means subcommittees.


PHOTO: Martin Benjamin

New York State Governor: Eliot Spitzer

Spitzer is that rare candidate: Not only will he win, he deserves to. He has captured the imagination of New Yorkers who are sick of Albany’s three-men-in-a-room cabal. He has earned a reputation as a creative, thorough prosecutor, setting the minds of the Democratic left to ease with a track record of taking on the “right” enemies: EPA-allowed coal-burning plants; Wall Street crooks; credit-card companies; and so on. Of course, we have yet to see how he will handle the jump to the executive branch, and the mythmaking of the man is starting to get cringeworthy. And as far the issues are concerned, he lets us down a little: His pro-death-penalty stance is regrettable, and we worry that his reluctance to support gay marriage is a signal of future disappointments. And of course there are those of us who argue that whenever he has done the “right thing” as attorney general, he was only doing his job. But in these times, it will be something of a relief to have someone who does his job and does it conscientiously, even if we don’t agree with him 100 percent on the issues. We endorse Eliot Spitzer for governor, and we hope he brings to this office the same high standards he set in his previous one.

New York State Attorney General: no endorsment

Over the past eight years, New York has enjoyed a celebrity attorney general, easily the most visible AG in the country. There was even talk that if Kerry had taken the White House, he would have tapped Spitzer for the federal job. We know we shouldn’t take up too much space talking about the next governor, but it is important to illustrate just who the frontrunners, Republican Jeanine Pirro and Democrat Andrew Cuomo, are claiming they can replace. Although we admire Pirro’s ambition and intellect, it concerns us when any politician leans too heavily on sexual predators and Medicaid cheats. We get it. Both are bad. Cuomo might seem better on certain issues—gun control, reform, death penalty—but he is still mired in scandals. And not the sexy kind of scandal, either, but the very unsexy kind: alleged Bill of Rights infractions; apparent environmental abuse; alleged multimillion-dollar payoffs; etc. Neither have the character we think is needed for the job. But unfortunately, we can’t bring ourselves to endorse any of the third-party candidates, either. Even though Green Rachel Treichler and Libertarian Chris Garvey are the only ones talking about crucial issues, such as the threat to our democracy posed by electronic voting machines, they just don’t have the proper experience for this job.

New York State Comptroller: no endorsement

Incumbent Alan Hevesi is smart, no doubt about it. And he has done a very respectable job as comptroller. Even Carl McCall has endorsed him. But Hevesi used a state employee to chauffeur his wife for years without reimbursing the state. When he was finally caught, he coughed up more than $80,000, but it was too late: While we otherwise would have given Hevesi our hearty endorsement, due to this major ethical lapse, we can no longer do so. As for his opponent J. Christopher Callaghan, he seems like a reasonable man with a respectable amount of time dedicated to civil service. However, we don’t see in him the necessary stature to fulfill such a demanding state position. Too bad the Republicans didn’t put up real contender in this race; by not offering voters a viable opponent to Hevesi, they really blew it. Also, the fact that Callaghan gave a speech to the Center-Right Coalition, a group sponsored by Grover Norquist—of the Americans for Tax Reform and Jack Abramoff fame—gives us reason to be wary.

New York State Assembly, District 108: Tim Gordon

Republican Pat Casale is retiring, and we say good riddance. Either candidate would be an improvement. While it’s nauseating to listen to Independent Tim Gordon insist that he’s neither a Democrat nor Republican while wrapping himself in Spitzer’s endorsement, generally we like Gordon’s campaign message. He’s anti-sprawl, advocates revising regulations to encourage small business growth, and supports the regionalization of community services.

New York State Assembly, District 109: Bob Reilly

Incumbent Democrat Bob Reilly ran for office in 2004 under three promises: to be loyal to his constituents over any political party; maintain a presence in his district; and donate his entire legislative salary to charity. He’s made good on those pledges, and while we’re displeased by the fact that he still hasn’t bothered to take Project Vote Smart’s candidate political issues survey, this failure isn’t enough for us to rescind the endorsement we gave Reilly in 2004. We’re also concerned by some of his challenger’s positions. Republican Paulette Barlette has made increasing sex-offender laws a mainstay of her campaign, and we find her support for civil confinement troubling.

New York State Assembly, District 111: Michael Eidens

Incumbent Republican James Tedisco has spent 24 years representing the 111th, and the time for change has come. Not only are we left unimpressed with the assemblyman’s record, but we see the opportunity for Democrat Michael Eidens to work with the Assembly majority for the benefit of his district and the state. Under Democratic leadership, his campaign priorities, including reducing property taxes, making health care more affordable, improving schools and giving judges more leeway in sentencing, could come to fruition. We trust the acclaim and popularity Eidens has received during his nearly 10 years as Schenectady County Court Judge.

New York State Assembly, District 112: Michael Carter

More than ideas, Hudson Falls Mayor Democrat David Carter is campaigning with concrete plans for change. To address rising fuel costs and America’s dependency on foreign oil sources, he advocates alternative energy sources. Carter suggests three locations in Hudson Falls that would be suitable for an ethanol plant, which would bring jobs to his district as well as give a boost to farmers. He also is proposing several plans for improving education and addressing funding issues. Although we’re not sure that we agree with his plan for revising school-district funding, the issue is one that needs to be discussed within the Legislature, and we think Carter would be able to contribute to the debate.

New York State Assembly District 127: Scott Trees

With incumbent Daniel Hooker stepping down, the district has a chance to send a representative to the Assembly who will be able to work with the majority to deliver results for one of New York’s most neglected districts. Siena economics professor Scott Trees offers his district the kind of intelligence, ideas, understanding and, most importantly, the honesty it deserves. We are doing what Eliot Spitzer and Mike McNulty have already done by giving our full support to Scott Trees.

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