New York's 19th CD is going to be without a doubt the tighest primary in the state, possibly in the nation. The drive to unseat Sue Kelly, Republican and Bush wacko, is going to be essential if the Democrats stand any chance of taking back the house.
I've given a lot of thought to this. Careful readers of this blog know that I gave John Hall an early mention here, as he kicked off his campaign. I assumed his was a novelty candidacy, but it turns out, he's been fairly energetic on the issues. I have some disagreements with him, particularly on his energy agenda, and would have loved the opportunity to interview him when he was in town back in June, but his handlers refused my (admittedly meager) credentials. Too, he has the backing of the AFL-CIO and Maurice Hinchey, which in upstate New York counts for a lot and also tells me Hall has worked hard to make sure the right people have noticed he's running.
Judy Aydelott has some very appealing positions on the issues, notably her "energy independence by 2020" moonshot (her word for it). Thinking big always appeals to me. She has a strong background locally, and is going to have a say in the next two years, regardless of which Democrat wins.
Jim Martorano is from the lower part of the 19th, and hence has some strong ties to the city. He's been endorsed by the UAW, as well. He's a Legal Aid attorney, so is acutely aware of the way the Bush administration, with the help of Kelly, have ripped into our civil rights, supports a single-payer healthcare system (which I also favor for cost efficiency sake, altho he and I part company on who should run it), and has taken a realistic, principled stance on Social Security.
Darren Rigger is young, energetic and driven, and that kind of energy will be important to reverse the past six years of Bush. He's the son of a blue collar worker, as I am, and has a strong union stance (his father was an iron-worker). Charlie Rangel has endorsed him, and Rigger has the strongest Latino presence of the candidates.
Finally, Ben Shuldiner would have to be the presumptive small dog in a race not exactly dominated by any one candidate (unless Hall's 35-year-old pop band membership is counted). A former NYC school teacher, Shuldiner is acutely aware of education issues (something this week's SAT scores show to be a glaring omission of this administration...sort of a "Set it and forget it" mentality of the Republicans). Shuldiner is the only candidate to highlight technological advancements and how they will affect his district, and ways that he will bring those advancements to the 19th.
Tough choice, I have to admit. Sue Kelly is highly vulnerable, but that doesn't mean we can run a suit (or skirt, to be PC). We need a vital, vibrant candidate who can tackle her head-on and isn't afraid to take on the national Republican machine, since the state GOP is in such a shambles.
I like all of the candidates. I would be proud to support any of them, but I think that only John Hall has the resources and standing outside of the district to effectively get the job done for the 19th while fending off the inevitable attacks. After all, look at how he stood up to Karl Rove and George W. Bush when they wanted to use his song, "Still The One" during the 2004 campaign.
Took guts. I like that.
NY 19 CD