Thursday, January 11, 2007

They're Off And Running!

Johnson, O'Connell To Face Off February 6th For Balboni's Senate Seat

With Mike Balboni off to head up New York's Homeland Insecurity (somewhat akin to The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming during the Pataki era), come now the special election to fill the seat vacated in the 7th Senatorial District.

The contenders --

For the GOP, Maureen O'Connell, former Assemblymember and current Nassau County Clerk. Maureen seeks to return to Albany (why??? Because THEY told her to!) for an encore performance in a show that should well have closed on opening night.

For the Dems, Craig Johnson, Nassau County Legislator.

Maureen got out of the gate first, with a clear jump on Johnson, who, as is typical in Nassau Democratic circles, had to battle his way through a crowded yet rather lackluster field of possible contenders. [Maureen even has a current campaign website up and running. Craig's people are still typing away on that old IBM Selectrix, we suppose... That's okay. Mike Balboni has a "re-election" site on the web, and he's not even running!]

O'Connell, no stranger to dysfunction, coming from the County Clerk's office [can anyone say, "two years to record and mail a Deed?"], is apparently looking to return from whence she came, to the dysfunction of the NYS Legislature.

Those of us old enough to remember -- and still in possession of most of our faculties -- will recall that Maureen O'Connell was part and parcel of "the most dysfunctional State Legislature in America," and, other than trading her County GOP cap for one with "Albany or bust" embroidered on it, is not likely to bring any new blood or innovative ideas to a legislative chamber where "progressive" is still a four-letter word.

Craig Johnson, who some might say also comes out of a dysfuntional arena, the Nassau County Legislature, has managed, for the most part, to stay above the fray and ruckus created by the likes of Roger Corbin and Peter Schmitt. He is a relative newcomer to local politics (replacing his mother in the County Legislature in 2000 after her untimely death), is intelligent, well-spoken, and is well regarded by his legislative colleagues -- on both sides of the aisle, we might add.

Mike Balboni, who immersed himself in matters of our nation's and state's security after 9-11, was Governor Spitzer's first choice for New York's security czar -- and an excellent choice, at that. We can think of no one either more qualified or better suited for the job, either in terms of knowledge or temperament (and if anyone dares to mention the name of Peter King, the now deposed Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Guantanamo Bay awaits).

Craig Johnson is the Governor's choice to replace Balboni in the Senate, and that tap on the shoulder, too, is well founded.

“I need Craig Johnson in the State Senate to help bring real reform to Albany, property tax relief to the people of Nassau County and a responsive government to all New Yorkers," was the full quote from Spitzer in Johnson's press release. "Craig is a voice for the common-sense changes we need. He will be a great State Senator.”

We know what we'd get with Maureen O'Connell back in Albany. Absolutely nothing new. Maureen, at best, would reinvent the square wheel turned by Bruno & Company, marching lock-step with whatever orders come down from the State Republican Chair. Craig Johnson, on the other hand, at least offers a new face and, without question, a fresh perspective. And, as we all know -- for better or for worse -- Democrats take orders from no one (either "in particular," or "at all").

So its "same old, same old," versus "time for a change" in the 7th SD. And while we liked hearing Maureen O'Connell's voice in Felix The Cat: The Movie, we believe that the times need a changin', both in the 7th and up in Albany.

The Dems have a slight edge of roughly 6,000 in registration in Balboni's old district, so, as is often the case with barely noticed special elections -- particularly on the local scene -- whoever gets out the most voters wins. Eliot Spitzer carried the 7th SD in November with somewhere around 70% of the vote, so the odds would seem to favor the Democrat here.

On February 6, Craig Johnson has a good chance of upsetting the GOP apple cart in Albany -- a wagon already missing a couple of wheels, and set to topple completely in 2008, or well before that, should Joe Bruno take a fall.

Aside from that, giving a little push to that wobbly, rickety cart, driven by the old cartmaster himself, Joe Mondello, would upset the status quo of Long Island's Republican-dominated Senate delegation, where "staying the course" has been mantra, and "win-by-all-means-necessary", a way of life. That, we believe, would be a good thing for all Long Islanders.

List this one under "change is good." Let's keep Maureen O'Connell as Nassau County Clerk, where it is unlikely that she can cause much more damage than has already been done by her GOP predecessors, and elect Craig Johnson to the New York State Senate.

The Community Alliance endorses Craig Johnson for Senate in the 7th SD, and encourages all eligible registered voters to go to the polls on Tuesday, February 6th.

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