Lesser Evil Time Again?

By Michael Kaufman

Tuesday is Election Day and as usual I am faced with some “lesser evil” choices I’d prefer to do without. Over the years I’ve cast many a quixotic primary vote for my candidate of choice, only to see them finish far behind someone I don’t like very much at all. Then when the general election comes around in November I am often faced with a choice of voting for someone I don’t like very much, someone I like even less, or someone I like but who is running as a minor party candidate and who has no chance of getting elected.

Sometimes I’ve had the luxury of voting for someone I like and who has no chance of winning because the candidate I don’t like very much is a shoo-in to defeat the one I like even less. That is what I did in the 2000 presidential election when I voted for Ralph Nader. Al Gore carried New York State by a big margin as expected but to this day I meet people who sneer when I tell them how I voted and all but blame me personally for George W. Bush’s ascent to the presidency, as if Gore himself bore no responsibility for his uninspiring campaign.

And while I’m at it I’ll tell you the exact moment I knew for sure Gore wasn’t getting my vote: While speaking at a big gathering of the AFL-CIO he told the attendees he has fond memories of his mother singing old labor movement songs to him when he was little. The example he gave was “Look for the Union Label,” a jingle written specifically for a TV commercial aired by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union when Al was already all grown up. Apparently neither he nor his speechwriter(s) had ever heard of “Which Side Are You On?” or “Union Maid” or “Miner’s Life,” or “Solidarity Forever,” or any number of other worthy songs that inspired working people fighting for their rights.  I reasoned then as I do now that a person who can let little lies such as this roll off their tongue is likely to do the same for big lies.

I still haven’t made up my mind about Tuesday’s gubernatorial election. I don’t like Andrew Cuomo very much, I like Rob Astorino even less, and if Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins had even a remote chance of winning I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. But Hawkins has no chance and I don’t believe the polls that show Cuomo with an insurmountable lead over Astorino. He does not have the passionate support of progressive Democrats despite his action on behalf of marriage equality, women’s health issues, and gun control. Yet it is precisely those issues that inspire passionate animosity among the supporters of Astorino. So unless I’m convinced otherwise, I’ll be holding my nose again and voting for Cuomo.

The race for Congress in the 18th District offers a choice among a candidate I don’t like very much (Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney), one I like even less (Nan Hayworth), and one I like even less than the one I like even less than Hayworth (Scott Smith). Maloney has been something of a disappointment on a number of issues but he is head and shoulders above Hayworth. In fact, he even did something very good for the Village of Warwick, as I learned from Mayor Michael Newhard during a recent conversation at the doggie park. I don’t remember exactly what Maloney did but I recall being impressed. I was also pleased by the reception I got the other day when I called Maloney’s district office to see if he could help a local farmer in need. As for Hayworth, I have seen the past and it didn’t work. Smith is a single-issue independent candidate who claims that both Maloney and Hayworth are too soft on immigrants.

Meanwhile, a peculiar race is taking place for the state Assembly seat in the 98th District. Elisa Tutini won the Democratic primary after sending out numerous mailers identifying her with causes dear to the hearts of progressives, and especially women’s equality. I had never heard of her before but she got my vote, although I learned later that Krista Serrano held similar views and that Tutini won with the support of bloc voting from Kiryas Joel. Her Republican opponent is Karl (Karlapalooza) Brabanec, who is part of the ugly cabal of Republicans who rule the roost in Orange County these days. Brabanic won the Republican primary with the help of bloc voting from KJ as well. But his primary opponent Dan Castricone will be on the ballot as the candidate of an entity called the Womens Equality Party. Castricone has been endorsed by United Monroe, which describes itself as “a grassroots citizens’ group devoted to endorsing candidates who will promote accountability, civility and transparency in government.” Castricone has cast himself as the “anti-KJ bloc voting” candidate. He has made KJ’s request to annex some 500 acres of land in the Town of Monroe his “seminal issue.”

“Once KJ has control of the land, there will be an immediate zoning change,” says Castricone. “High-density housing will proliferate, taxing the resources of Orange County taxpayers and straining infrastructure of the surrounding area, including streets, highways, sewage treatment plants, water supplies and school districts.” All of that may or may not happen whoever gets elected to the Assembly. But frankly I’m more worried about the harm this right-wing Republican from Tuxedo might do in the state legislature than I am about additional Satmar Hasidim moving to Orange County. To add to the peculiarity, the Womens Equality Party has candidates on its line in only two of the other races. Cuomo is their candidate for governor….and it is the sole line for the aforementioned anti-immigration candidate Scott Smith!

Another intriguing race is the battle of the Christines for Family Court Judge. Christine Krahulik is the Republican and Conservative Party candidate. That would ordinarily be a deal breaker for me but she has been endorsed by Beth Quinn, for whom I have enormous respect. Unfortunately, Beth did not really explain the reasons for her endorsement other than that she knows Ms. Krahulik to be a wonderful person. Christine Stage is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party lines. She has also been described as a wonderful person and seems highly qualified by her experience. So unless I hear more from Beth to change my mind between now and Tuesday, I’m voting for Christine Stage.

So to recap, here are my choices (one or more of which require nose holding and may be subject to change): Cuomo for Governor, Maloney for Congress, Tutini for Assembly and Stage for Family Court Judge. Whether you agree or disagree, please be sure to exercise your precious right to vote come Tuesday.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 Responses to “Lesser Evil Time Again?”

  1. Scott Smith Says:

    Mr. Kaufman,

    Good evening. Having just read your piece “Lesser Evil Time Again?” I would invite you to view my website and read more about my positions and philosophy. Representing me as a “single-issue” candidate is wholly inaccurate and even on that one issue you have oversimplified my position. I invite readers of this article to investigate me further for themselves as well. Thank you for your attention.

    Scott Smith

  2. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Mr. Smith,

    I have accepted your invitation and viewed your website. I have to say that I disagree with most of your positions almost entirely,
    and agree with some others, at least partially. I also agree with you that it is unfair to characterize you as a single issue candidate and that your position on immigration was oversimplified and inaccurate as described in my blog post. I merely repeated something I read elsewhere without investigating further and for that I apologize. I also appreciate the straightforwardness of your positions and the lack of opportunism (how easy it would have been to have taken a strong “pro-life” stance rather than risk losing support on the issue). I know it is not worth much but I now have a whole lot more respect for you than I do for Nan Hayworth. I’m kind of stuck with voting for Maloney, however, because I am far closer to him on more issues and frankly I think some of your positions are simplistic and wrong. Nevertheless I appreciate the polite way you addressed your concerns and hope you will continue reading Zest of Orange in the future.

  3. JW Says:

    Neither Castricone nor Smith are Womens Equality Party candidates, but rather United Monroe and “Send Mr. Smith”, respectively.

    They are listed on the Womens Equality line due to space constraints and the subsequent decision of the Orange County Board of Elections.

    For reference: http://blogs.hudsonvalley.com/fray/2014/10/23/at-least-it-wasnt-the-sapient-line/

  4. bennett weiss Says:

    How you vote might matter more than who you vote for.

    By voting on the Democratic or Republican line, you are giving your de facto support to a failed two party system.

    However, if you vote for the candidates of your choice on a third party line (eg. liberal, conservative, working family…), you are sending a message that you want wider ranging dialogue and more meaningful choices.

    Voting this way does not reduce your candidate’s chances in the least, but does increase the stature of third parties…and that, for those of us who see clearly the duplicity of the Dempublicans, is a very good thing.

  5. Marshall Rubin Says:

    I too received some flak from my friend who is the chairman of the Sullivan County Democrats, when I told him years ago that i voted for Nader. I believe Gore lost over one incident, and his repeated promise to keep social security in a lock box. But the real kicker is when, during one of Gore’s debates with Bush, while W was speaking, Gore, after obviously having been poorly coached, emerged from his pedestal and approached Bush, standing just behind him in an effort to intimidate. Bush turned around, and without skipping a beat, said, “hello,” and went on with his speech. I knew right then that Gore was done for.

    In my 19th CD we have Democrat Sean Eldridge, a young, handsome, gay, and wealthy individual for whom I’d done much direct voluntary work. The Republican is incumbent Chris Gibson, who built a reputation as a moderate, often boasting of his bipartisanship, after having worked in Congress with–Maloney! Yet Gibson has voted much more often along tea party lines.

    I’ve decided to repeat my sacrilege and vote the Green Party ticket, given the wide lead Cuomo enjoys in the polls. Cuomo’s continued shift to the right, the latest being his fear-mongering with Chris Christie on ebola quarantines assures me that I can safely vote my conscience.

  6. John Allegro Says:

    Mr. Kaufman,

    I’ll ask that you re-examine the issues confronting the 98th assembly district with more of an eye to local impact, rather than national issues.

    Elisa Tutini won the Democratic primary solely due to the Kiryas Joel bloc vote. She has not political experience. She refuses to be interviewed. She is the live-in paramour of Monroe Town Councilman Daniel Burke.

    Regarding progressive issues: did you know that Ms. Tutini holds a crony job with the Town of Monroe? The Town Board tried – and was denied by the County three times – to hire her without a civil service examination. The Town had to award her job as a “contract” position, the legality of which may be questionable.

    Ms. Tutini has no business being in government. If elected, she will merely serve the will of the KJ bloc vote, just as her friends in the Town Board do.

    If you want honesty, pragmatism, and a commitment to preserve the rural beauty and economy of our region, Dan Castricone is the only choice for the 98th Assembly seat. Please contact us if you have any questions. We’d be happy to speak with you.



  7. Legislator Mike Anagnostakis Says:

    Once again, a very interesting read — great job by all the people of “Zest of Orange”.

    The statement that is 100% correct in this blog is the following one: “I reasoned then as I do now that a person who can let little lies such as this roll off their tongue is likely to do the same for big lies.”

    Just as bad as candidates who tell lies, are candidates who will not talk to the press and thus do not want the public to know what their positions are on the issues!

    In the political world we live in today, it is left to the voter to realize which candidates tell lies, and which candidates hide from the press — then the voter must vote against people like that, and vote for the candidate that stands on the side of honesty, regardless of what the party affiliation is of that candidate!!

    Mike Anagnostakis
    Orange County Legislator

  8. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Thanks to all for the comments thus far. JW: Thank you for clarifying the confusion caused by the Board of Elections re the Womens Equality line. Another bit of confusion, though not the fault of the Board of Elections, is the Independence Party slate in the 18th Congressional District, which puts Nan Hayworth on the same line as the statewide Democratic Party ticket. Someone following Bennett’s advice might unwittingly cast a vote for Hayworth if they choose Independence as their way of “sending a message.” Mr. Allegro: You may have worthwhile information to share but you lose me when you include gratuitous details about Ms. Tutini’s personal life–even more so by your misuse of the word “paramour” (a la Carl Paladino). On the other hand, Mike Anagnostakis’ comments resonate with me. I’ll take a closer look at Mr. Castricone’s positions before making a final decision.

  9. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Hi Michael —
    I enjoyed and empathized with the idea of holding your nose while pulling the lever — which is dated language, I know. Over the years, I have developed a key question that I ask myself in these situations: has the candidate done (or does the candidate
    stand for) enough of the things I think are important to get my vote. If the answer is yes, I vote nose-open and do not focus on the other stuff.

    This is why I voted enthusiastically for Obama (and would do so again if it were an option) and why I will vote enthusiastically for Maloney. With Cuomo, my fingers move noseward, but stop in time for me to pull that lever.

    But the Brabenac – Tutini – Castricone race is different. Brabenac is both a Conservative and b-a-d. Tutini is closer to me politically, and if I did some research, I might be pulled into her camp. But the do-not-pass-go issue for me is KJ, and not just the annexation. KJ is like that volcano in Hawaii — moving slowly, inexorably, and destroying everything in its path. He almost certainly won’t win — the lava has flowed over most of the democratic process, absolutely in Monroe, almost absolutely in the County and State levels. Money in the political system is the cancer for the country as a whole, but KJ is our malignancy, and I’m really afraid that it’s stage 4. –GH

  10. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Obviously, Michael, I ain’t voting for Cuomo. First, his so-called Safe Act has, as near as I can figure, made criminals of more than 100,000 gun owners who have declined to register rifles. Second, and this is rumor mill stuff, he may well be indicted for illegal activities in Albany. Frankly, I hope it’s true and I hope he gets sent to prison. Third, the rumor mill says the Sterling Forest property being considered for a gambling site is owned by Andrew Cuomo. For me, the Safe Act alone is enough to vote for Astorino whose positions have been altered by Cuomo political ads. Funny, one of the position he’s being hammered on is his support for a Cuomo bill. By the way, as much as I like your stuff, your votes pretty much make it clear you’re a staunch Democrat. And unless something changes, I think Kiryas Joel Neuhaus will be turning over Orange government to the Democrats.–GD

  11. Michael Kaufman Says:

    I have a problem with singling out KJ as the main threat to good government in our region (although I agree with many of the criticisms). To me it is an overstatement to liken KJ to a stage 4 malignancy. As for the Safe Act, I am not familiar enough with its various provisions but if there are parts that are legitimately objectionable to law-abiding, responsible rifle owners, I see no reason why it can’t be amended accordingly. The law was enacted with good intentions in the aftermath of the Newtown elementary school shootings. Finally, I would not describe myself as a “staunch Democrat.” I’ve voted for a Republican or two over the years. I am closer in my beliefs to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist who caucuses with the Democrats because he has no other alternative at the moment.

Leave a Reply