By Larry Gordon

We are at the cusp of one of the most important elections in generations. There isn’t one race in the whole bundle of political competitions we can say is not important. In fact, each is more than just a race between people with opposing positions on some issues.

Most of the candidates are the embodiment of the extreme schism that is today more pronounced and obvious than ever before. Then again, some of the differences between the candidates mostly feature a combination of nuance and rhetoric and do not amount to much.

Let’s focus on a couple of these races in the mad rush for the vital objective of the Republican Party maintaining a majority in both houses of Congress. As of now, those who prognosticate these matters believe that the number of Republican seats in the Senate will increase, while the outcome of the House races is a bit more of a toss-up that is still looking good, however, as far as keeping a Republican majority, albeit slim.

We have heard from numerous candidates over the last few weeks, and while many stand a very slight statistical chance of upsetting what are mostly incumbents, the interviews and presentations provided us with more of a unique insight—beyond the usual soundbites—into the candidate’s philosophy.

Kathleen Rice at FTJPAC Meeting October 14

Let’s start with Nassau County’s two-term congresswoman, Kathleen Rice. She is a previous longtime Nassau County district attorney and has served this area smartly and effectively over the last four years.

Listening to Congresswoman Rice at the inaugural function of the Five Towns Political Action Committee event at the Young Israel of Woodmere last Sunday morning, her political acumen and success shone brightly. Kathleen Rice is a Democrat and, as she describes herself, a moderate who rejects the growth and encroachment of the extreme and even socialist left into the party.

Ameer Benno

Rice makes it clear that she does not subscribe to what she refers to as “AOC,” which we quickly realize is a veiled critical reference to Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is seeking to pull the Democratic Party to a more extreme left than it is at present. The congresswoman also mentions that while she does hope that American voters cast ballots for more Democrats and that the party takes control of the House, she also says that she is not in favor of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi being once again installed as speaker of the House.

Congresswoman Rice will most likely handily defeat her opponent, Republican candidate Ameer Benno, who has not campaigned aggressively in a district that a Republican certainly should be able to win.

Todd Kaminsky at FTJPAC Meeting October 14

Other candidates present at the forum included the always affable State Senator Todd Kaminsky, in all likelihood a future attorney general or even someday governor of New York in a post-Cuomo era. And we also heard from Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro who, unbeknownst to many, is the Republican candidate for governor and will face Governor Andrew Cuomo in the November 6 election.

Assemblywoman Melissa Miller

Assemblywoman Melissa Miller was also a welcome presence at the FTJPAC event. During her tenure in office, she has created a positive impression of someone who cares about the community. She is particularly known for her advocacy on behalf of children with special needs and we look forward to her succeeding in the 20th District race.

Marc Molinaro at FTJPAC Meeting October 14

Molinaro is a smart and impressive political leader, but like so many other Republicans in the past, after the 12-year tenure of Republican governor George Pataki, achieving any electoral traction has proven to be near impossible for the party. So while Molinaro is a savvy and articulate conservative, his political positions unfortunately do not stand a chance in an overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning state of New York.

On the other hand, with certain sectors of the country both supporting and understanding the thrust of the Trump presidency, it would follow that Republicans may have an opportunity this year to do better than they have in a long time. And while that might very well be the case, and while many Democrats have good reasons to cross over to vote Republican, it does not look like it will be anywhere near enough to score Republican victories for statewide office.

But that does not mean that some Republicans in New York cannot manage to win. They certainly can. And one of those candidates is Tom Sullivan, who is running for State Senate in Queens and is facing Democratic incumbent Joe Addabbo. Senator Addabbo is a classic Democrat who supports Governor Cuomo’s policy up and down the line. A Sullivan victory could tip the balance in the direction of the Republicans in state government which, of course, would provide the proper formulation of checks and balances which benefits all citizens when the balance is utilized productively.

Tom Sullivan

I met with Mr. Sullivan last week in the 5TJT offices, and I can report that he communicated a great and important message of particular relevance to the 5TJT readership. The Sullivan-Addabbo district includes areas like Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, Glendale, Woodside, and an assortment of other areas of Queens. Sullivan has 23 years of experience as a financial professional on top of 25+ years of military service. His agenda includes supporting lower taxes, reducing wasteful spending, and fighting tirelessly to represent the people of the district.

Former NYS assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a Democrat who is supporting the incumbent, Mr. Addabbo, but says that he thinks very highly of Mr. Sullivan and considers him a close and good friend. In our meeting last week, Mr. Sullivan acknowledged that he understood that Goldfeder would be supporting the Democrat but still, he says, he values Goldfeder’s friendship and advice.

As long as we were talking about New York State politics with Mr. Goldfeder, I asked him why what seems like some very talented Republican candidates haven’t been able to gain ground or actually defeat Democrats in the voting booth in the past—and most likely won’t defeat them in the upcoming elections. We talked specifically about Mr. Molinaro, who Phil says he knows well and with whom he served in the Assembly when he was in office.

Chele Farley at FTJPAC Meeting October 14

We also talked about Chele Farley who is challenging Kirsten Gillibrand here in New York, and Keith Wofford who is the Republican candidate for NYS attorney general. Both are very talented and accomplished individuals and would be a great credit to the political process and especially to New York State.

These challengers cannot seem to get a leg up on the competition, so to speak, though it is not because of their political positions or philosophies but basically due to a shortage of funding to support their effort to seek office, Phil Goldfeder says.

Of course, we have all read about how Las Vegas casino moguls Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are investing tens of millions of dollars in senatorial and congressional races, but even though that is a lot of money, they are limiting those donations to races that they believe can be won. Unfortunately, most of the New York races do not qualify as recipients of their largesse.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be devoting space to a variety of these races. There is a great deal at stake nationally as well as here in New York. There is a possibility that the vote will completely rearrange the direction of the country come the New Year. The Democrats are hoping that this is the outcome, but the good news for the country is that it does not look like that is going to happen.

Here in New York, the Democrats seem to have a lock on things and are hoping to win a slim majority in the State Senate. There are some very close races in play and the hope is that the conservatives who live in upstate New York will turn out and make a Republican difference in the Senate.

Election Day 2018 is two and a half weeks away. This is going to be a good one. 


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