Bruce Blakeman fits into this election cycle relatively well as a challenger for the United States Senate. Blakeman is seeking the Republican line, which until last week’s news, did not seem so complicated. When you look at the kind of challengers that won in the midterm elections in 1994, they were all relatively moderate candidates that made fiscal responsibility their platform. Blakeman, and perhaps his main primary challenger Joe Dio Guardi, fits that criterion.
But what lies ahead is less predictable than the midterms in 1994. Back then, there was a national message from the party leadership that explained the agenda. There is not so much of a plan this time – not yet anyway. So Bruce Blakeman runs for the U.S. senate with his own platform, which is great for independence, but might be tough for fundraising.
“I am an absolute hawk on security issues,” he explains. In mentioning some of the issues that he has with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, he quickly mentions that she did not protest the plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York City court. “He should be tried in a military court,” says Blakeman, who once served as vice chair of the Port Authority's Security Committee.
His thoughts on the national debt and the federal budget are that we should not prepare a budget based on what we think we might need, until we know how much we are taking in. “There is less opportunity for fraud and patronage when you look at budgeting based on the economic pie that you have,” says the former Nassau County legislator. “I am a fiscal conservative, and I mean that I am a real fiscal conservative.”
Fiscal conservatives tend to fall into two categories. You have the budget-first crowd like former Senator Warren Rudman. Those folks take all budget items off the table – no exceptions (defense, entitlements…anything.) And then you have those that are fiscal conservatives, but they are willing to keep a few items off budget – like national security expenses or defense.
Blakeman’s main concern is that there is not enough job creation, and the way to get us there is through private sector investment. All of this brings us to health care. Blakeman did not seem too opposed the idea of health care for Americans, as long as it went to those not covered. He does not support a government system for those with existing coverage.
“Right now, businesses do not know what they are going to have to pay for this health care bill, so they are not investing in equipment and technology – which is slowing down the economy,” says Blakeman. “If you want to make health care more accessible, you need to have more jobs that provide health care.”
This is where the debate will be in November. Health care will already have been voted on, but thoughts on the debt and where to cut are going to matter. The thing about New York is that what might be considered wise government investment in the city, could be exactly what voters upstate and on Long Island might be opposed to.
Right now, Blakeman has 12 county chair-people endorsing him in New York. Judging from last week’s move by Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy to join the race for governor, one never really knows when you have the total support of the Republican Party. Blakeman is an interesting candidate because he brings no baggage to a campaign.
In fairness to Senator Gillibrand, she has probably had a hard time carving out the independent streak she was known for in the House because the White House has needed full-on support. She will most likely get a lot of help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
And while the Republican Party has its own coffers, it does not have as much money to go around as the Democrats have this year. All of this means that Blakeman, or whoever wants to run statewide, has got to raise his or her own money. The Republican Party might not have a unified message for the mid-term elections, but they can always shine the Bat Signal over Manhattan and see what they come up with.
Apps and Stats and the Future of Local Government
Even though we may be tired of hearing the word transparency, since every politician uses it, there is no reason for the public to let up on the idea. City governments, such as San Francisco and Boston - and now New York - are using smart phone applications to communicate with residents. This also gives residents a chance to voice concerns. In Boston, for instance, people can send in pictures of things that need repair from their phones. New York has applications for taxi cab information and subway locations.
What does all of this mean if you do not have an iPhone or similar technology? Not a whole lot, but at some point we will all have one, and this is a way to stay on top of government. The city offered $5,000 and dinner with Mayor Bloomberg to the best application presented in a competition. When you think about it, you will be taxed on the $5,000, so order an appetizer while you’re at it.