For instance, if there were an open primary for the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by Anthony Weiner with the top two finishers facing each other, we may still have Bob Turner and David Weprin on the ballot - as is the case now - but there would have been less of a backroom party-boss element to the selection process. The open system would eventually produce more centrist candidates in all races.
But parties are with us for now, and as long as that is the case, cross-party endorsements are big stories.
Last week, Councilman Peter Koo, a Republican, endorsed Weprin, a Democrat, in the race. What is most significant about this endorsement is not whether Weprin is a better choice than Turner, but instead how absolutely important the Asian-American community is to the Republican Party. This does not mean that one elected official has a greater say than any other, but Koo winning in Flushing the way he did was the most significant Republican victory in Queens in a long time.
New York’s Asian community has shown itself willing to vote for either party, and it is less predictable than other voting blocs. Koo won his seat when the Democrats went head-to-head in a closed primary, and he capitalized on that in the general election. Since being elected, Koo has been an independent Republican councilman.
This endorsement, however, should not make or break the momentum in the race for either candidate in the race. “The Queens Republican Party has a great deal of respect for Councilman Koo, and we respect his choices even when we do not always agree," said Robert Hornak, spokesman for the Queens County Republican Party. "He has been an independent-minded Republican, and we recognize that.”
The smart move for the Queens Republicans right now is to turn its attention to Koo after September 13 and give him the support he needs to be re-elected, regardless of who he decided to endorse for Congress.
Turner is in better shape than anyone could have expected in his attempt to replace one the most liberal members of the House of Representatives. Republicans in Queens have made gains in the last few years, and if they can grab this congressional seat, it would be national news. But it is still a tall order. If Turner is going to make a strong showing on September 13, the Conservative Party is going to have to get all hands on deck – there is no way the Republicans can do this for Turner alone.
In or Out George
After recently completing the first chapter of a book that I am writing on political reform, it struck me how many of the great political reformers were from New York, like the Roosevelts, Charles Evans Hughes, Giuliani, etc. A New York politician that would have been an interesting candidate nationally is George Pataki.
Pataki should have been John McCain’s choice as a running mate in 2008, but he was not. He would have been a safe choice. Now the former governor is toying with running for president, but it might be too late. However, Pataki would not have to campaign much in Iowa, since he would stand no chance there anyway, and that could make getting in late a possibility.
If Pataki, who has never lost a race in his life, wants to take on Obama, he has to make that decision this week. He can no longer continue to tease his Facebook followers with maybes.