Joe Mondello At Death's Door; Long Live The New Republicans
For those of us old enough to remember Richard Nixon's departure from the White House in the throes of Watergate's darkest days, the sounding of a death knell for the Republican Party was then, as it is now, premature.
The Grand Old Party may well be on life support -- both nationally and in New York State -- but don't go lighting candles or saying Kaddish.
The old, tired, machine-like drone of the yesterday's GOP -- the party of the Roves and the Mondellos -- is hanging by a thread, to be sure. Yet, a new breed of Republican waits in the wings (or so us democrats, with a small "d", can only hope), if not to sweep out the old (as well they should), then at least to usher in a new era -- one in which the party returns to its core values of fiscal conservatism and populist -- if not always popular -- beliefs.
It is difficult, indeed, to fathom that the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt could have strayed so far, abandoning principle and the moral high ground in favor of stomping on the Constitution and stealing lawn signs.
Still, never count the GOP out -- here in New York or otherwise.
True, for the foreseable future (historically, a 12-year cycle), the Republicans are the persona non grata of the Empire State.
Craig Johnson's resounding victory over Maureen O'Connell, with 53% of the vote, in yesterday's special election to fill Mike Balboni's 7th SD seat, has now given the Dems a voice in Long Island's State Senate delegation for the first time in more than 30 years. And the prospects for the GOP holding onto the Senate -- with Bruno faltering, and 2008 staring them right in the face -- are most dim.
That said, New York, not to mention the rest of the nation, needs a strong, competitive, two-party system, one where the issues are not only raised and debated, but actually addressed and resolved.
Yes, the GOP did itself in -- an attempted suicide most ugly -- with a leadership that failed us in so many ways. Lies will, eventually, catch up to you. So will arrogance. And a failure to take up the causes of the very folks you are elected to serve, will ultimately mark your demise, just as sure as the property tax burden will empty a Long Island homeowner's wallet.
So, it is, at last, time to say goodbye to Joe Mondello; to administer last rites and close the coffin on the old GOP.
Of course, this is not for us to do, but rather, for the up and coming in New York's Republican party.
Will Craig Johnson be a strong voice for Long Islanders in Albany's marble halls, or merely a whimper, barely audible over the entrenched and still emboldened voices of his fellow State Senators from Nassau and Suffolk -- Republicans all -- clinging to the life-rafts as the sharks sniff around for blood?
Surely, the Democrats in Albany bear their share of blame for the fine state we now find ourselves in. The Senate may be under the thumb of Bruno's GOP, but Silver's finger remains on the pulse -- his hand over the mouth -- of the Assembly Democrats, and that isn't any better.
Whether Craig Johnson's election to the State Senate portends the end of GOP dominance in State politics, new blood in the battle to reign in property taxes, or renewed hope for Long Islanders that we will get our fair share of school aid and an equitable return on those tax dollars we send to Albany, remains to be seen.
About the only thing we can say with certainty as a result of this special election is that campaign finance reform should top the agenda in Albany as well as in Washington.
All right. We can also say that the people's work -- of dressing the issues that ail New York with more that an paliative salve -- must be the priority of this session's State Legislature.
The pandering to the special interests, and the whim of those three men in that room, have taken us to the brink. The time has come -- for them and for us -- to take New York back!