face of the 20th: Kirsten Gillibrand claims victory.
. . But You Can’t Hide
Gillibrand defeats incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney
Early on Tuesday morning at a polling place in a small fire
station in Greenport, 20th District Congressional candidate
Kirsten Gillibrand’s 3-year-old son Theodore called it: “Mommy’s
gonna win!” he shouted as she carried him out of the polling
place in her arms.
Gillibrand got the official news onstage in front of a throng
of supporters at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs
later that night, around 11 PM, when her communications director,
Allison Price, received a call from a reporter telling her
that they were calling the race for Gillibrand. She was No.
15, Price was told, of the 15 seats the Democrats needed to
take over the House of Representatives. Price leaned over
to Gillibrand, who paused, smiled and announced to the crowd
that the Associated Press had declared her the victor in the
battle for the 20th district.
Her first order of business was to tell the cheering crowd
of her supporters that her office would be open to them.
will see me any time you want to see me!” she declared.
Earlier that evening, Gillibrand walked up and down Broadway
in Saratoga Springs, cheerfully greeting voters.
Her opponent, John Sweeney, was a lot less conspicuous on
Election Day. The night before, Sweeney appeared at Milton
Town Hall to announce $1 million in funding for the town.
After the announcement, Sweeney avoided the crowd that was
waiting to speak to him by exiting the back door of the building
and leaving in a different car than the one he came in.
Fallout from the release of documents showing that state police
had responded to a 911 domestic violence call made by Gaia
Sweeney in December last year haunted the Sweeney campaign
in its final days. Sweeney had promised to reveal the “real”
report relating to the 911 call, but by Friday, it was apparent
that no such document was forthcoming.
Over the weekend, momentum for the Gillibrand campaign became
obvious with the Post-Star withdrawing its endorsement
of Sweeney and the release of a new Siena poll showing the
race in statistical dead heat. Siena polls had previously
shown Gillibrand behind by double digits. Insiders say that
by Sunday, Sweeney was exploring the possibility of having
un-F’ing believable!” declared MoveOn.org member Joe Seeman,
who explained how activist groups and unions had come together
to work for the Gillibrand campaign. “They all got off their
asses and made a difference!” he said.
Gillibrand staffer Ross Offinger, who has been with the campaign
since its early days, said he knew that the race was winnable
when the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Organizations endorsed Gillibrand in August, over Sweeney,
who has had long ties with the labor movement. Offinger admitted
that it’s hard to speculate what would have happened if the
revelations of Gaia Sweeney’s 911 call had not been made public,
but he said that the numbers had been trending toward the
Gillibrand campaign for some time. In fact, while Siena polls
consistently had Gillibrand trailing Sweeney, internal polls
showed a much a closer race.
State Assemblyman John McEneny (D-Albany), who arrived to
congratulate Gillibrand, insisted this week that the race
in the 20th was about more than “scandal and patronage.”
now, there is no more important race than getting back the
House of Representatives. We are talking about war and life
and death.” McEneny said although he felt a change was coming
he was pleasantly surprised to see such a wave of House victories
across the nation “this early.”
Saratoga Mayor Valerie Keehn said that Gillibrand’s election
was “momentous” for Saratoga Springs.
Gillibrand thanked her supporters and staff, and said that
most importantly, she wanted to thank the women of the 20th
district. She spoke of her grandmother, Dorothea “Polly” Noonan,
and how she inspired her to get involved in politics. She
then insisted the race was about restoring “the checks and
balances in Washington.”
Gillibrand walked off the stage Tuesday night, signing stickers
and pictures, shaking every hand that was thrust her way,
while a swarm of newsmen scraped and clawed to get her in
their camera’s sights. As the frenzy calmed, Sweeney’s concession
speech drew the attention of the euphoric crowd. Some cozied
up to a small TV set to hear his speech; others just stared
at the image of Sweeney’s concession on the wall-sized screen.
In his speech Sweeney wondered if his district would see a
decrease in funding under Gillibrand and declared that Gillibrand
would now “live in the glass house.” The revelers turned away,
smiled at each other, and then started singing, “Nah, nah,
nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!”
Rumors that there was no concession call from Sweeney to Gillibrand
could not be confirmed.
Me in the Spotlight
resident Mahir Cagri is seeking an apology and
royalties from Sacha Baron Cohen, the man responsible
for the popular Borat character. Cagri, who has
become a cyber celebrity since he began posting
on a personal Web site in 1999, says he provided
the inspiration for Cohen’s character. Included
on the site are photos of himself playing ping-pong
and sunbathing in a skimpy bathing suit, scenes
also portrayed in Cohen’s current hit movie.
. . . She Did It Again
that pop-star Britney Spears filed for a divorce
from husband and aspiring rapper Kevin Federline
came as light relief from the glut of serious
political coverage this week. The Spears-Federline
split comes about two years after the nuptials,
a significant improvementy from Spears’ first
wedding in Las Vegas, which lasted less than three
days. Don’t feel too bad for her—thanks to a prenuptial
agreement, she’ll keep her fortune.
government agency in China has ordered a condom
seller to shut down his shop after the administration
received several complaints about the products
Zhang Zhiwen was selling. Agency officials said
the sanctioning was because the wares were sold
without Chinese instructions and in inappropriate
packages: The condoms were wrapped in small metal
containers with comical images of historical figures,
including former leader Mao Zedong. According
to the shop owner, the Mao condoms were hot sellers.
much sex is too much sex? That’s one of the questions
being asked in a multimillion-dollar advertising
campaign launched by the United Church of Canada.
(More specifically, the ad reads, “How much fun
can sex be before it’s a sin?” and appears with
a picture of a can of whipped cream.) The advertisement
is one of three ads designed to provoke debate
about hot-button religious issues, as well as
encourage new membership.
Dong, the Witch Is Dead
a move that could have drastically affected the
elections and restored faith in the Republican
Party, George Bush announced on Wednesday that
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would resign.
The only problem was the announcement came a day
after the elections.
faithful rally together in Albany to cheer their losing candidates
J. Christopher Callaghan, Republican candidate for New York
state comptroller, took the stage Tuesday evening at the Crowne
Plaza in Albany to give his concession speech to a rowdy and
exhausted group of supporters. Shouts came from the crowd:
“You made us proud Chris! You made us all proud!”
It was after 11 PM. Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer could be
seen coincidently delivering his acceptance speech on the
large screen set up behind Callaghan. His bowtie hanging loose,
Callaghan opened his concession speech with a parting shot:
“I called Speaker Silver and congratulated him on winning.
. . . No, I called Hevesi, but I still couldn’t resist a punch
He wondered aloud why the voters had chosen to vote for a
man like Alan Hevesi, who is under investigation for allegedly
using state staffers to chauffer his wife for years.
they don’t owe me an explanation,” Callaghan said. To which,
someone in the crowd shouted out, “They owe me one!” Another
person shouting, “They owe us money!”
Standing in this crowd of supporters, it is easy to see that
in his short run for office, a run that was marked by his
relative obscurity, underfunding and lack of party support
(Republican Party chairman Steve Minarik was notably absent),
Callaghan has gained a “man of the people” reputation.
In an emotional moment during his concession speech, he thanked
his family, including his “un-chauffered wife,” and all the
young supporters that he says adopted him.
Callaghan was not only the only candidate supporters had filed
in to see at the Crowne Plaza. Gubernatorial candidate John
Faso took the stage first in the evening to make a concession
speech that surprised no one.
were not successful in vote tallies,” the former state assemblyman
said. “But we were successful in raising the issues and sounding
the alarms.” Faso declared that his Republican challenge to
Spitzer moved the conversation toward the issues that most
concern New Yorkers, such as the upstate economy and reducing
After Faso came John Spencer, the Republican and Conservative
Party candidate for Senate. Spencer, who was joined onstage
by Michael Long, the Conservative Party chairman, wanted it
to be known that his campaign was run on principles.
Even though, he said, he had lost in his bid against incumbent
Sen. Hillary Clinton, and GOP losses were spread throughout
the entire nation—it was clear by then that the Republicans
had lost the House of Representatives—there was still hope
for the U.S. Senate.
are going to hold on to the Senate,” he said. “I’ll say my
After the speech, when asked why he would run against a candidate
as popular as the incumbent—a question that each of the candidates
could have been asked—Spencer summed it up: “We’re in a democracy.
We’re not in the coronation business.”
evades repeat of election-day controversy.
When the one-booth polling place at Skidmore College opened
Tuesday, student Adam Eckstein was apprehensive. During previous
election cycles, Republicans were accused of intimidating
students and challenging their votes, thereby deflating turnout
numbers. Eckstein, an active Democrat, was anticipating a
repeat performance, especially since Skidmore voters had the
potential to, perhaps significantly, affect the outcome of
the contentious 20th District race.
By mid-afternoon, he and several other members of Skidmore’s
Democratic club, some of whom also interned for the Kirsten
Gillibrand campaign, were cautiously relaxed as they planned
how to proceed with their get-out-the-vote efforts from inside
a small conference room on the third floor of Ladd Hall.
boring right now, but that means everything’s going well,”
Eckstein said as he scoured the Internet, monitoring the day’s
events on several news sites and blogs. “Everything’s going
He estimated that about 600 students are registered to vote
on the overwhelmingly Democratic Skidmore campus. As of 4
PM, poll watchers reported that approximately one-quarter
of those students had cast a ballot.
Inside the conference room, poster-size lists of the dorm
hall and room number of each registered voter was taped to
the wall. When confirmed that a particular student had voted,
their residency was stricken from the list. Volunteers used
up minutes on their cell phones by placing multiple calls
to remind friends to vote.
sort of notorious in Saratoga for swinging elections more
Democratic than the town otherwise would be,” said Marisa
That’s partially why Skidmore’s polling place has been challenged
by Saratoga Springs politicians and residents. The Skidmore
College polling location was established in 2001. Supporters
of the decision argue it allows students to participate in
the community in which they reside while providing a polling
place that’s convenient.
Opponents, however, often are uneasy about the amount of power
the location puts in the hands of students, who potentially
can change the government of a city that they only call home
for part of the year.
When members of the Skidmore Democratic club and interns for
the Gillibrand campaign encouraged students to register to
vote prior to the Oct. 13 deadline, Falcon said they encountered
mixed sentiment. “Some people thought we didn’t have the right
to vote here,” she said. Others simply preferred to vote absentee
in their home district.
The future of the Skidmore College polling place came under
fire again, though subtly, this cycle. If the city charter
reform measure had been approved (it was defeated), it could
have jeopardized the future of on-campus voting by shifting
authority over polling locations to the mayor’s office, according
to a letter from John Franck, the city official in charge
of elections, which was published in Skidmore’s student newspaper.
Inside the Skidmore third-floor Democratic headquarters, students
were content with passing off the charter vote as a “town
issue” that they were unconcerned about. The students said
they were surprised when two opponents of the measure showed
up to canvass students between classes.
While charter-reform opponents’ canvassing was restricted
to outdoors, Skidmore Democrats took a much more personal
approach. Volunteers went from building to building, knocking
on doors to encourage registered voters who hadn’t yet cast
their ballot to do so by 9 PM.
didn’t knock on someone’s door today because I thought they
were a Republican,” said Eli Turkle, expressing his understanding
of how close the vote spread for the two congressional candidates
More often than not, however, the typical Skidmore student
will vote Democrat.
At one point during the afternoon, a student stood outside
the Intercultural Lounge, in which the polling booth was set
up, scanning a newspaper. “I’m trying to figure out the issues,”
she said when another student approached her.
vote Democrat,” he responded.
incumbent Hillary Clinton easily retained her U.S.
Senate seat for a second term. Her closest challenger, Republican
John Spencer, trailed by roughly 35 points. Howie Hawkins,
the Green Party candidate, pulled more than 50,000 votes.
In the largest upset of the evening, newcomer Democrat Kirsten
Gillibrand unseated incumbent Republican John Sweeney
in the 20th Congressional District with 53 percent of the
vote. Gillibrand joins the more than two dozen Democrats whose
victories led the party to gain control of the House of Representatives.
Democratic incumbent Michael McNulty trounced his opponent
Republican Warren Redlich in the 21st U.S. Congressional District,
78 to 22 percent. Earlier this month, McNulty announced that
if Democrats took control of the house, he was in line to
chair a subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means
What can we say? Eliot Spitzer easily seized a gubernatorial
victory from Republican opponent John Faso. Spitzer’s 69-point
lead is the largest margin of victory in New York state’s
Democrat Andrew Cuomo handily beat his opponent, the
Republican former district attorney and judge Jeanine Pirro,
by 20 points. Rachel Treichler, the Green Party candidate,
pulled 1 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Comptroller Alan Hevesi survived scandal
and won a second term as the state’s fiscal watchdog. J. Christopher
Callaghan, Hevesi’s relatively unknown Republican opponent,
caught up quickly after blowing the whistle on Hevesi’s “chaffeur-gate,”
and garnered roughly 40 percent of the vote.
New York State Assembly: In the 108th district, Independence
party candidate Tim Gordon, who also ran on the Democratic
line, won with 51 percent of the vote, beating Republican
Martin Reid. In the 109th district, incumbent Democrat Bob
Reilly won with 62 percent over Republican Paulette Barlette;
in the 110th district, incumbent Republican James Tedisco
won with 64 percent of the vote; in the 112th, Roy McDonald
beat David Carter with 65 percent of the vote; and in
the 127th District, incumbent Republican Peter D. Lopez
took the open seat from opponent Democrat Scott Trees,
with 55 percent of the vote.
In Albany City Court, incumbent Rachel Kretser defeated
Conservative John Scott by a large margin.
In the race for two seats on the Albany Board of Education,
newcomers Mark Barth and Wayne Morris led the
way, ousting board president Edward Brown Jr.
All four Albany charter propositions passed.
The Saratoga charter reform proposition was soundly defeated.
loose ends this week-