win big, while long-shot Democrats fail to hit the mark
After packing polling places with unprecedented turnout, local
Obama supporters turned up at Jillian’s in Albany Tuesday
night. A who’s who of Albany politicians paraded through the
official local Obama celebration headquarters—before Obama
had even been declared the victor— to congratulate jubilant
supporters who packed the Albany bar. Paul Tonko, candidate
for the 21st District Congressional seat, greeted voters early
in the evening. Members of the Albany County Legislature and
the Albany Common Council celebrated the Obama victory. Albany
Mayor Jerry Jennings even showed up, and tried, unsuccessfully,
to quiet the raucous crowd to make a speech.
Albany Common Councilman Corey Ellis had a lot to celebrate.
As a coordinator of the local Obama campaign and advisor to
Albany District Attorney David Soares, Ellis’ wins came big
on election night. Ellis introduced the victorious Soares
as a close friend and noted that, in the early days of the
campaign, “We didn’t know where we were going, but we knew
it was going to be a better place.”
Soares won more than 70 percent of the vote in a commanding
victory over Republican Roger Cusick. The latest count, as
of press time, had Soares at 80,441 votes to Cusick’s 29,128.
Soares congratulated his office staff and volunteers, who
surrounded him on stage at Jillian’s. The raucous crowd reacted
forcefully to Soares’ win. Soares took the time to chide members
of police union Council 82 who he said gave the false impression
that he does not have the support of local law enforcement.
Soares also noted that voters saw “through negative campaigning
and the scare tactics” of his opponent.
In other Albany races, Dan Egan and Rose Brandon won seats
on the Albany Board of Education. The proposition brought
forward by Albany Common Councilman Richard Conti (Ward 6)
that would give the Albany Common Council the ability to approve
creating new positions and salary and title changes passed
In the 20th Congressional District, Kirsten Gillibrand handily
defeated Republican opponent Sandy Treadwell. With Treadwell
spending $5.5 million (mostly his own money) to Gillibrand’s
$3.5 million, Gillibrand still managed to defeat Treadwell
with more than 60 percent of the vote. Observers say Gillibrand’s
resounding victory this year will make her an intimidating
opponent for the Republican Party for years to come.
Paul Tonko was elected into New York’s 21st Congressional
seat, beating opponent Jim Buhrmaster by about 60,000 votes—a
25-percent margin. The seat, which will be vacated in January
by Michael McNulty (D-Green Island), has been a Democratic
stronghold since the days of Sam Stratton, and Tonko was considered
a sure bet after his primary victory.
an exciting time for the nation,” said Tonko at his election
night party at Mallozzi’s Banquet Hall in Rotterdam. “I think
there’s this breaking from the past and it could be the beginnings
of a new era.”
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Tonko thanked his supporters,
family, staff and fellow assembly members for helping him
on a series of journeys.
journey that my family has taken me on always reminded me
that you need to give back—life is about giving back,” Tonko
told the room full of cheering supporters. “They placed at
my feet opportunity and challenge, and they placed under my
feet the foundation of faith, family and freedoms that enables
us to participate in this democracy.”
After speaking on the significance of his history and his
past, Tonko spoke of the journey that lies ahead.
prepared me so well,” he said, “to deal with issues in a bipartisan,
bicameral way, working with the administration anew to advance
the causes of the American mosaic, so that everyone is part
of a discussion.”
In his speech, Tonko named some top issues he hopes to help
resolve while in Congress, including the withdrawal of troops
from the Middle East, working to repair the frail and fragile
economy, increasing sustainable energy, and fixing America’s
deficient health insurance.
going to be a coterminous agenda. I don’t think we can single
one [issue] out from the other,” Tonko said. “I think you’re
going to see a presidency that is going to be very aggressive
about moving forward.”
Tonko represented the 105th New York State Assembly District
for 25 years, and was appointed president and CEO of the New
York State Energy Research and Development Authority in 2007.
The 21st Congressional District contains all or parts of Albany,
Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and
In the state Assembly races, incumbents John McEneny (D-Albany),
Tim Gordon (I-Bethlehem), Bob Reilly (D-Newtonville), and
George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) enjoyed comfortable victories
over their challengers, while Republican newcomer Tony Jordan
beat former Wilton Town Board member, Democrat Ian McGaughey,
to take over the 112th, the seat of former Assemblyman Roy
In the state Senate races, as the Democrats rode to a history-making
majority, local incumbents Neil Breslin (D-Albany) and Republican
Hugh Farley (R-Niskayuna) trounced their opponents.
Nearly a dozen volunteers for Mike Russo worked the phones
at the Flavour Cafe in Troy, calling to remind voters that
it was Election Day, and trying to get them out to support
their candidate. And at first reporting it appeared their
hard work for Russo, Democratic candidate for the state Senate
in the 43rd District, seemed to be paying off: He started
out with a strong lead over his opponent, former Assemblyman
Roy McDonald, as the results began trickling in.
prayers are with you,” Russo read the message from his Blackberry.
“I don’t know whether that is good or not.”
But the numbers soon changed, and McDonald seized the lead
that he would ride into victory as the final polls reported.
At around 10:30 PM, Russo strode to the center of his supporters,
gathered in the Flavour Cafe, and conceded victory to McDonald.
The final numbers saw Russo trailing McDonald 60 to 39 percent,
with spoiler Chris Consuello taking 1 percent of the vote
on the Working Families Party line.
It appears that Russo, who ran an underdog campaign that was
outfunded by his Republican opponent’s by nearly eight to
one, was unable to overcome the overwhelming enrollment disadvantage
that the Democrat faced. Had he won the district, he would
have seized the seat of former majority leader, Joe Bruno,
which had belonged safely to the Republicans for more than
just spoke with Roy McDonald. We are to a point where it is
mathematically impossible for us to win,” Russo said before
conceding. But, he continued, this campaign had proven that
“it is not impossible to run a positive race. . . . We raised
the bar in political campaigns.”
He and his team, he said, knew they were facing a daunting
challenge and could be proud of their efforts. “We are leaving
this race with our heads high . . . with our integrity intact
. . . for the next race.”
His supporters and staff applauded the idea of doing it all
In other races, Rensselaer County Judge Patrick McGrath appears
to have defeated Republican Anthony Carpinello in the race
for the state Supreme Court.
In Troy, the referendum to adopt Mayor Harry Tutunjian’s revised
charter failed to pass muster with the voters “We were out
doing lit drops to defeat proposal No. 4. We are very excited.
I think it is an opportunity to start again and do this the
right way,” said Councilman Ken Zalewski.
Zalewski has suggested to his colleagues that they reach out
to Tutunjian in the hopes of establishing a bipartisan commission.
“I am calling it a citizen-centric commission.”
In two separate referendums, Trojans also voted to create
a library district, but, as of press time, appeared to have
voted down the proposal to fund the district. In practical
terms, both referendums needed to pass in order to move forward
with the district, Zalewski said, and without funding, it
could be tricky.
Hardin, David King, and Allie Garcia
light of Albany Common Councilman Glen Casey’s
knack for getting himself into embarrassing situations—reading
magazines through council meetings while local
news cameras roll, proposing overarching legislation
that is not under the council’s purview and other
such blunders—you’d think the guy might cut himself
a break. However, this week Casey found a new-and-improved
way to embarrass himself. Casey, who proposed
a law earlier this year that would have people
arrested who don’t pay their parking tickets after
two years, got his Cadillac booted . . . in a
loading zone. Casey initially claimed that he
promptly went in and paid the boot fee for tickets
he felt he did not deserve. He noted that clients
use his car and may have received tickets without
telling him. However, City Treasurer Betty Barnett
told the Times Union he still owes $175
in tickets. She also told the Times Union she
found it hard to believe Casey did not receive
notices at his address about the money he owed.
the Youth Vote
of University of Albany students, who thought
they were registered to vote in Albany, were turned
away outright at the polls after being told they
were not registered. Poll watchers said that the
students were not offered affidavit ballots as
they should have been under state law. Students
turned away at the polls wound up going to the
Albany Board of Elections, where Supreme Court
judges reviewed their cases and granted court
orders for reportedly more than 100 students to
be able to vote. Voting problems have plagued
the University at Albany campus in the past, as
students in different quads are required to vote
in different municipalities.
night, a break in a water main underneath River
Street in downtown Troy erupted, tearing apart
the street and flooding the neighborhood. City
employees worked to repair the damaged pipe, as
the section of River Street was closed off to
traffic. Earlier this year, a gas line on River
Street also failed, causing a massive explosion
that luckily occurred during the night, and not
at a time when the concussion could certainly
have injured or even killed people on the often-busy
street. Perhaps when former Senate Majority Leader
Joe Bruno launched his farewell porkathon, he
should have earmarked some of that $6 million
for repairing Troy’s crippled infrastructure,
instead of destroying City Hall.
flier for state Senate candidate Chris Consuello caused an
uproar in the 43rd Senate District, and raised questions of
Troy voters are no strangers to one-time pizza boy and Department
of Public Works employee Chris Consuello. Consuello has run
for city council, mayor, even state Assembly. This year, the
23-year-old politico took his shot at the state Senate seat
in the 43rd District, the district of former Majority Leader
Joe Bruno. And this year, as every year, Consuello made his
run on the Working Families Party line, gave no interviews,
made no public appearances, and refused to even speak with
members of the local leadership of the WFP.
Consuello is, as they say, a “shadow candidate,” and the man
behind his shadowy electoral endeavors is widely assumed to
be DPW commissioner, county legislator, and former constituent
liaison to Bruno, Bob Mirch.
The strategy is simple, and sometimes effective: A main party
operative props up a phony candidate on a third-party line
to force a primary, which the puppet might possibly win, thereby
distracting the other major party’s candidate. In this case,
Consuello, who is viewed as a spoiler for the Republicans,
ran a primary against former Democratic candidate Brian Premo
in the 43rd, and won. Thus, Consuello was able to make it
on the ballot on the WFP line, and was able to divert 1 percent
of the vote away from the other candidates, presumably from
Mike Russo, the Democratic—and WFP-endorsed—candidate.
Last week, a flier began to arrive in the mailboxes of voters
in the district urging them to vote for Consuello. The flier,
which featured a picture of Democrat Barack Obama, also featured
a photo of a smiling Consuello, and called on voters to “Vote
Row E—Working Families.”
time to make our voice heard. . . . It’s time for a real change
in leadership,” the flier read.” The WFP logo was affixed
to the back of the flier, but nowhere on the literature did
it state which, if any, registered committee was responsible
for the flier.
Pat Pafundi, Rensselaer County chair of WFP, said that her
organization exhausted precious hours calling the 1,400 WFP
registrants in the 43rd to remind them not to be fooled by
Consuello and his flier—that he was not endorsed by the WFP
and does not represent the party’s core values.
Photoshop the photo of a DPW worker, pizza delivery guy next
to the next president is despicable,” Pafundi said. She said
that the WFP has been trying for the past three years to block
Consuello’s efforts, but that there is little they can do
when their opponents are so willing to play dirty.
She forwarded a copy of the flier to the legal staff of Barack
Obama’s campaign, but laughed when she admitted that they
were probably a little busy at the moment.
Another benefit of the hardball political tactic of a puppet
candidate became apparent on Tuesday evening, as concerned
supporters of Russo began to circulate the speculation that
a second attempt had been made by the Consuello people to
distract and divert votes away from Russo. A robocall, a prerecorded
message autodialed to registered voters, from WFP executive
director Dan Cantor to registrants in the 43rd, urged voters
to pull the lever for Barack Obama on the WFP line.
However, there was some confusion about the call, and many
people reported that Cantor had actually urged people to vote
down the entire WFP line. The obvious problem in the 43rd:
honestly don’t remember,” said Cantor, whether the robocall
that he issued called for supporters to vote down the line
or whether it specifically called for voting for Obama on
the WFP line. He did, however, take full credit for any robocall
in the district, and dismissed the idea that Consuello’s people
had made the call.
people who did the flier are clearly capable of anything,”
Cantor said, “but they didn’t do this.”
Cantor also admitted that is was an unfortunate oversight
on his part that calls would be made to voters in the 43rd
that didn’t clearly state that they supported all of the candidates
on the WFP line accept for Consuello. In the middle of organizing
many campaign efforts throughout the state, sometimes, unfortunately,
he said, things get overlooked.
was probably only two dozen voters,” he said, “but we should
have suppressed those numbers.”
Although nearly everyone in the WFP and Russo camps who spoke
with Metroland assumes that Mirch was behind the fliers
and Consuello’s irritating candidacy, the longtime political
pit bull denies any involvement.
terrible. I am as innocent as can be,” Mirch said. “I still
support Chris Consuello, and I didn’t know anything about
the mailer until I saw it. I am always happy to get blamed.
The nice thing about getting blamed for anything is like getting
to rent space in people’s heads for free. If they are so obsessed
with me, God bless ’em.”
the one thing about me,” Mirch said, “if I do something, I
am awful proud of it.”
As for the legality of the flier, according to Bob Brehm,
deputy director of public information with the New York State
Board of Elections, the flier did not, in fact, violate election
law, as there is no statute that states political literature
endorsing candidates for state office needs to be marked as
paid for by a committee. In fact, the only way that the BOE
can track the legality of a piece of election literature,
he said, was through committee disclosures.
If the person or persons responsible for these fliers never
disclose the expense to the state, then the state will never
know who was responsible.
And as for that shadowy figure Consuello, Cantor called his
behavior “grotesque” and hoped that it didn’t affect the outcome
of the election. It didn’t.
loose ends this week-