Thursday, August 31, 2006

For Attorney General

This race is one of the few in recent memory where you can actually run an empty suit and beat the Republican. Jeanine Pirro (you may remember her, she had the three minute gaffe when she announced her later-aborted run for the Senate against Hillary Clinton, among other inanities) by all rights SHOULD walk away with the general election: she has enormous name recognition, holds fairly moderate positions for a Republican, is a downstate Republican and so can count on her home turf, Westchester County, to provide heavy support and is an attractive woman to boot.

As I said, she should be walking away with this race, but apparently is not, and is even struggling for campaign contributions. This, in a state currently dominated by incumbent Republicans George Pataki and Joe Bruno, is a bit of a shock. While it's easy to say it's an outgrowth of her Senate-run-debacle, AG is a natural position for her, and I'm left scratching my head a little.

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, I will be taking a long look at Pirro in the general. That said, because neither Andrew Cuomo or Mark Green does a whole lot for me, and there's quite a bit to discount for both candidates.

As New York Magazine put it, it's "The Noodge Versus The Bully". Mark Green is a brilliant lawyer and politician. Trouble is, he's not afraid to let you know. Andrew Cuomo is an administrator's administrator. Problem is, he inherited his father's thin skin along with his Rolodex. Green is a former Nader's Raider, and so has very solid progressive credentials, burnished at the altar of New York City Ombudsman. He's run in countless elections and primaries, but is barely known outside of New York City. If there's an ideologic and philosophic heir to the current AG (and soon-to-be-governor) Eliot Spitzer, it's Mark Green.

Ah, but that personality. Grating and ingratiating. I met Green once, shortly after the 2001 Democratic primary for mayor. He was, surprisingly, sitting in the public eating room in the basement of Grand Central Station, not a place you'd normally find a politician (generally, that's the Oyster Room's clientele). He was gracious, but you could see the strain on his face and the strain leeched out in conversation.

Andrew Cuomo...well, four years ago, he made a short-sighted stab at his dad's old job, governor, and in the process pissed a lot of people off, including the eventual nominee (who had his lunch eaten in the general election). He seems to have made amends and even swayed some of the machinery to his side, and has what appears to be a comnfortable lead over Green heading into the primary. He's brought the unions on board, nearly exclusively.

And yet...I can't bring myself to anything more than a tepid support for the candidate I'm ultimately for.

Call me irresponsible. Call me crazy. In this race, I'm for the distinct underdog, Mark Green. Of the two, I think he stands the best chance of beating Pirro, but more, to being a good attorney general. Cuomo has precious little experience chasing down bad guys. Green has practically built his career on this. And I'm not sure Andrew Cuomo is anything but a shell of his father, who I'm still angry at for the way he dicked around with running for President.