Candidates Debate at Two Forums - Tonko, Democrats Release Energy Plans
New Endorsements for Tonko, Brooks - Internet Poll Gives Lead To Steck
With about 25 days to go before Primary Day, the Democratic race in the 21st Congressional District saw one of it's busiest weeks ever in the past seven days. Two major candidates' forums were held, people's mailboxes are overflowing with mailers, signs are popping up everywhere, and the airwaves are beginning to see a bombardment of advertising.
Given the competitive nature of the race and the strength of the candidates, it's likely that we ain't seen nothin' yet. Go below the fold for a wrap-up of the bigger events and the odds and ends that may have whizzed by you in the past seven days.
Brooks, Shahinfar, Steck, and Tonko Informative, Sullivan Insulting, At Debates
The week started with a bit of confusion over whether or not a first debate was to be held. It certainly was on August 9th at the Islamic Center of the Capital District. All five Democrats were there debated all sorts of issues, but the big newsmaker was renegade candidate Joseph Sullivan, who ended up doing more insulting than debating according to Capitol Confidential:
Mosque 21st forum heats up
The Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie held a meet the candidates night for the five Democrats in the 21st Congressional district race Saturday night. Attendance was good, about 200 people, and the question and answer session was pretty standard - save for some of Joe Sullivan’s exchanges with the audience.
Liaquat Husain, the voting drive leader at the center, said Sunday that things got pretty uncomfortable when Sullivan proclaimed his views that certain countries have a right to be invaded, and said Sullivan told the audience he believes the U.S. should invade Iran.
"He made some people really upset," Husain said.
Sullivan claims in his own e-mailed statement that he was called a "redneck" by members of the audience. Other accounts say his views were described by someone in the audience as being redneck in nature.
Sullivan went on in his e-mail to reiterate what he told the mostly Muslim audience - that he objected to the Pledge of Allegiance not being recited at the forum, among other points.
His statement Sunday read, "Some in the audience argued that the Mosque is a religious place that need not display a flag. Sullivan replied that the Mosque is in America and this was a political forum for candidates for the Congress of the United States of America."
Other than that, audience members asked all of the panel, which also included Tracey Brooks, Darius Shahinfar, Phil Steck and Paul Tonko, questions about the economy, environment, the Iraq war, immigration and education.
Joseph Sullivan did learn his lesson, and made similarly offensive remarks and continued to scold audiene members at another debate, this time at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Albany. Full coverage of this debate entirely on health care can only be found right here on The Albany Project. In keeping with their lax attitude toward what voters might want to know, none of the mainstream local media bothered to cover this definitive conversation on one of the number one issues in this race.
To briefly summarize, candidates Phil Steck, Tracey Brooks, Paul Tonko, and Darius Shahinfar all support a universal single-payer health care system and Jospeh Sullivan supports midwives and "personal responsibility." Aside from health care, the debate at the Unitarian Universalists Society included an exchange on campaign contributions that is worth re-posting here as we may not have heard the last of this argument:
Question Four: Here's a tough question: How much money have you taken in campaign contributions from the insurance and drug industry?
Tracey Brooks answered that she hadn't taken any such money that she was aware of. "We have taken any, um, I have the largest number of individual donors in the campaign. We're very proud to have over 1,500 supporters supporting my campaign. We've done an oustanding job raising money and we're very excited about the momentum that's brought to us. Many of you enjoyed the wonderful television commercials." Brooks contineud that campaign finance reform was also an important issue. Tracey even went so far as to encourage everyon in the audience to contribute five dollars to whatever candidate they liked best. She concluded by saying "So we're very excited to have the largest number of individuals, that we have the largest percentage of those individuals and that money coming from inside this district. and I'm very proud of the campaign I'm running."
Phil Steck said firmly "The answer is none. I also have total support for public finance of elections." Steck said the issue was more complicated than it seems and that many "lobbying firms" have given money to the 21st primary candidates, but not to his campaign. "Those lobbyists are working for interests in the health insurance industry. This candidacy that just spoke to you, she is affilliated currently with a lobbying firm that has interests in the health care industry. So the issue is not so simple as whether you take contributions from health insurers.' Steck added that corporate contribution wre prohbited by federal law and that campaign filings are public information. "You gotta look and see where did they take their contributions from, whether they're running for County Legislature, as I did, or State Assembly as Tracey Brooks and Paul Tonko did, and see if in those campaigns they took contributions from health care." Steck concluded. "So, the answer in my campaign is aboslutley none in any time in any way."
Joseph Sullivan scolded the audience's clapping for Phil because "we're supposed to be counting votes." After rambling about this, he said "I don't believe in it. If you want campaign reform, here I am." He said, "if you don't money, you're not considered a serious candidate." He then cited a recent Times Union op-ed concluding that candidates should not get equal coverage. "What arrogance!" he said. "All the media have to do is give all of us equal space, tell people about our websites, all people have to do is read it. People that don't have computers, they can make a nice chart and summarize all the candidates. That's camaign reform."
Paul Tonko answered by saying "After 24 years of service in the Legislature, I can tell you that there were some donations in that capacity. However, in the vast majority of the funds I've raise, primarily they were raised by five, ten, twenty-five, fifty dollar contributions. People that you represent totally believed in the work you were doing and the manner of the professionalism in your job." Tonko also exlained that he worked on campaign finance reform in the Assembly while "under attack" from money from South Dakota. "And until the system is changed and your trying to do the good work, its unfortunate, but your trapped in that situation. But look at the record: I think you can see it balances. There might have been dollars contributed, but more importantly: look at the record." Tonko again related his success with Timothy's Law while fighting the insurance lobby as a major part of that record. "Today I'm proud to say, because of that tenacity, and that vision, and support of a great coaltiion, people who are mentally ill or who struggle with mental health disorders have the hope of mental health parity insurance coverage, so, look at the record."
It should be noted as well that Darius Shahinfar was lucky he wasn't at this debate not just because of this tough question, but also because a small miracle happened to him the same night of the debate:
Today, Darius Shahinfar, Democratic Candidate for New York's 21st Congressional District, announced the addition of baby Ava Kathryn Shahinfar to his campaign team.
"My wife, Noelle, my son, Jackson, and I are extremely happy and blessed to have her as an addition to our family," said Shahinfar. "We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support in the past nine months and look forward to introducing her to the community."
Baby Ava was born at 8:33 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12. She measured in at 21 inches, weighing a healthy 8lb 9oz.
That speaks for itself. Congratulations to Darius.
NY-21 Advertising Blitz Continues
When it comes to getting your name out there in the 21st, the one thing everybody has seen are the signs that are just now popping up along Capital District roadways everywhere. Those of us watching closely have already noticed them dissappearing as well. No accusations will be made at this time.
Tracey Brooks supplemented the name-recognition effort with another two mailers this week. I noted that while out canvassing for my chosen candidate, many voters are going to be returning from vacation with two or three of these things stuffed in their mailbox. Here are Tracey's latest mailers. Both continue her two largest campaign themes of women's issue and health care:
Phil Steck advertised heavily this week as well, sending out a mailer of his own, this one specifically relating to the War in Iraq and another war (which I'll point out was shorter than the Iraq War). Phil Steck also debuted his first television advertisement the morning of August 12th.
Internet Poll Has Steck Winning Primary, General Elections
Not that this can be really worth anything real given the number of votes cast into the void of cyberspace. But the results are still very interesting in this poll from Upstreamzine, another blog from the greater Capital Region worth checking out for local politics. Personally, I don't plan on posting any polls precisely because the results are bound to be unscientific. It would be nice to see a credible independent poll released just before the primary, seeing as how there hasn't been a primary like this in the district for a half century. The general-election hypotheticals are as such:
Jim Buhrmaster (R) 62%
Paul Tonko (D) 32%
Jim Buhrmaster (R) 51%
Tracey Brooks (D) 49%
Phil Steck (59%)
Jim Buhrmaster (41%)
And the primary match-ups look like this:
Phil Steck - 44%
Tracey Brooks - 41%
Paul Tonko - 9%
Darius Shahinfar - 5%
Joseph P. Sullivan - 1%
Steven Vasquez - 57%
Jim Buhrmaster - 43%
The poll is worth looking at because you are asked to vote for each primary candidate in the actual order they will be appearing on the ballot on September 9th. In the Democratic Primary poll, just under 1,000 votes were cast; between 800 and 300 voters each voted in the general election match-ups. Upstreamzine also posted an explanation on their polling results. But the poll is not worth defending as a source for decyring the fall of one candidate or the imminent victory of another outright. That's up to only one poll on September 9th.
Energy Plans of the Democratic Candidates
Thursday, Paul Tonko sparked off a flurry of campaign activity by announcing and releasing his energy plan on Thursday. Tonko's "Comprehensive Energy Policy" is a document of position statements nearly 1,500 words long and makes his plans and positions clear on over a dozen issues and emphasizes his former roles as Chairman of the Energy Committee while in the State Assembly and as CEO of NYSRDA.
A Comprehensive Energy Policy
By Paul Tonko, Candidate for Congress
Our country is in the midst of an energy crisis that is threatening to undermine our economy, our security, our environment and the well being of hard working American families. High energy costs have played a significant role in the current economic downturn. Families are faced with the double shock of $4 per gallon gasoline and what are predicted to be the highest home heating costs in history. Our reliance on foreign energy sources has held our foreign policy hostage to ensuring a stable oil supply and has made us less safe. The United States is in urgent need of a comprehensive energy policy that addresses the challenges we now face. This is why I am running for Congress.
And if it were to have a table of contents, it would look like this:
Immediate Relief from Home Heating Prices
Federal funding for Research and Development
Creation of a new "Green Economy"
Training a "Green Collar" workforce
Promoting National Energy Portfolio Standards
End Subsidies to Big Oil and Support Alternative Energy
Increased Fuel Efficiency Standards
Expanding Access to Public Transportation
Increasing the Energy Efficiency of Buildings and Homes
Increase Transparency of Commodities Futures Markets
Taking on the Oil Cartels
Making Necessary Improvements in the Nation's Electricity Grid
Addressing Global Climate Change
The full energy policy is worth taking a look at it you have yet to make a choice in the 21st or if issues relating to energy are most important to you. By releasing his plan, Tonko set the pace and was followed by similar announcements from some of his opponents. Phil Steck came out with his energy policy the same day as Paul Tonko, as reported by the The Albany Project:
"So long as New York has the 2nd highest energy costs in the nation, it is impossible for our upstate economy to move forward. Clearly, the people in charge of energy policy in this State for the last 20 years have failed us. Lobbyists for the companies that want to keep the status quo have control in Washington and in Albany. Unlike other candidates in this race, I have joined with Barack Obama and the DNC and rejected money from lobbyists and PACs," said Democrat Phil Steck.
Phil Steck believes we need a national energy policy. Currently, special interests are steering American energy decisions. Big Oil corporate executives and their lobbyists are writing energy laws, earning excessive profits and stifling the development of alternative technologies. As Congressman, Phil Steck will:* Support expansion of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, and, in particular, seek to increase the capacity of local hydroelectric resources that are underutilized. * Support a Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil, not for punitive purposes, but to fund investment in alternative energy infrastructure, such as building transmission lines to deliver wind power to the markets that need it * Support adoption of European-style subsidies for wind and solar development * Support a crack down on energy speculators who economists believe are driving up the price of oil by $20-$60, reform of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and eliminate the Enron Loophole. * Support local production of food sources, eliminating the high costs associated with shipping food from foreign nations and the west coast.
In addition, Darius Shahinfar released a specific statement on Tonko's energy policy, also on Thursday:
Shahinfar Statement on Tonko Energy Policy
"In April, shortly after I declared my candidacy for New York’s 21st Congressional District, I became the first candidate in this primary to sign on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. This is a collection of legislation that is designed to get our nation back on track and begin to reverse the damage done by George Bush and the Republicans.
"Ever since President Bush invaded Iraq, gas and energy prices have soared to record highs. In April, I signed on to support the New Apollo Energy Act (H.R. 2809) as part of the Responsible Plan. This legislation, according to its sponsor, Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-1), is "the most comprehensive and technologically visionary energy program proposed in Congress."
"I have told the people of Upstate New York what legislation I will support in Congress while all my opponent has done is issue a press release rehashing all the ideas proposed on this campaign and in Congress."
This statement seemed to set off a pile-on as Tonko's third rival, Tracey Brooks, sent out an e-mail from campaign communications director Kyle Kotary stating the following:
- Other candidates are a little behind Tracey Brooks regarding energy plans. She announced her plan on May 8th. See below.
- Tracey favors closing the so-called Enron loophole, ending oil speculation, ending big oil subsidies and a supports windfall profits tax.
- Tracey has talked about her experience with Sen. Clinton's office, working with communities throughout the district to bring green jobs and federal funding for alternative fuels and renewable energy.
- Tracey has said:" We can no longer have a government that puts big oil profits ahead of the needs of the people."
- Tracey released her 7 point energy plan on May 8th. She issued her first release on energy on Feb 25th and has been talking about gas prices, alternative fuels and renewable energy ever since!
The e-mail then provides links to several press releases on the energy ideas she has proposed in her campaign. If it were to have a table of contents, it would look like this:
Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks Proposes Seven-Point Plan To Address Record Gas Prices: Brooks and Local Gas Station Owner Ask: "Where is all the gas money going?" -May 8, 2008
Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks Praises New York's Plan to Increase Use of Renewable Energy Resources In Wake of Escalating Oil, Gas and Home Heating Prices -February 25, 2008
Tracey Brooks Focuses on Capital Region Economy: Calls for Investment in New Technologies and a Departure from Failed Bush Policies -March 30, 2008
Tracey Brooks Discusses the Impact of Rising Food and Gas Prices: Brooks Talks with Residents and Small Business Owners about Real Solutions to the Economic Problems Facing Local Families -April 13, 2008
Tracey Brooks Celebrates Earth Day: Calls for Enhanced Environmental Protection and Energy Conservation Efforts and More Funding for Renewable Energy Development and Climate Change Research -April 22, 2008
Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks Blasts the Bush Administration and Big Oil Companies for Record Gas Prices and Record Profits: Brooks Discussed Failed Policies of the Past and Proposed Solutions for the Future -May 1, 2008
Tracey Brooks Calls for Federal Action to Address Soaring Fuel Prices: Rising Jet Fuel Prices – Like Gas Prices – Threaten Our Transportation System, Weaken Our Economy and Hurt Our Families -June 1, 2008
Here is a link to all of Tracey Brooks's past news releases on energy and other issues so you can read the full press releases.
Energy and health care having been both hotly debated betweent he major camps this week, here's a break down of what else went on.
NY-21 Candidate-by Candidate News Wrap-Up
In addition to everything else, Tracey Brooks added some endorsements to her list this past week. This included labor union support:
Tracey Brooks, Democratic candidate in New York's 21st Congressional District, today announced she has been endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 97 in the race to replace retiring Congressman Michael McNulty.
"IBEW, Local 97 has endorsed Tracey Brooks for Congress in New York's 21st district because she has been a good friend to labor and a strong advocate for the issues important to our members and working families like health care for all, pay equity and retaining and creating good paying jobs here in the Capital Region," said David Falletta, IBEW Local 97 President.
Tracey also recieved the support of a hopeful future colleague in Congress:
Stem Cell Advocate Brooke Ellison Endorses Tracey Brooks for Congress in 21st District
Brooks Supports More Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research
Tracey Brooks, Democratic candidate in New York's 21st Congressional District, today announced the endorsement of nationally-known stem cell advocate Brooke Ellison. Brooks also called for more funding for stem cell research.
"I'm endorsing Tracey Brooks for Congress in New York's 21st district because, like Governor Paterson and others, she knows how important stem cell research is to finding cures, changing lives and expanding life's possibilities for millions of Americans," said Brooke Ellison, a nationally-known stem cell advocate, founder of the Brooke Ellison Project, and a former Democratic candidate for New York State Senate.
"I know Tracey Brooks will go to Washington and fight for those without a voice, for those who want change and for those who are waiting on a cure," said Ellison.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have the endorsement and support of Brooke Ellison," Brooks said. "Our campaign continues to gain momentum as I speak directly to the voters on issues that are important to them, from stem cell research to providing affordable health care for all."
Finally, on August 11th, Tracey attendend events to honor our deceased veterans. Here is the relevant portion of the news release:
Tracey Brooks, Democratic candidate in New York's 21st Congressional District, today attended "Honor a Deceased Veteran" in Rensselaer County to honor the life of George A. Randall, III.
Last Monday, August 4, Brooks also attended the Albany County "Honor a Veteran" Program in tribute of Hal Martin Silverstein.
"Like Congressman McNulty, I will be there for our veterans," said Brooks. "We must give our veterans the federal and state resources they need to get affordable health care, to find good jobs and, most importantly, rejoin their families and communities when they return home."
The biggest news for Darius was no doubt the birth of his daughter, Ada, mentioned above. Otherwise, Shahinfar released a statement pledging to refuse Congressional health care beneftis if elected to Congress on August 12th.
Shahinfar Will Reject Congressional Healthcare Benefits
Message to Congress: "Live like the rest of us, pay your own way"
Albany, N.Y. – Today, Darius Shahinfar, the Democratic candidate for New York's 21st Congressional District, continued his call for members of Congress to live like the people they represent.
"Today, there are nearly 47 million Americans living without access to affordable health care, yet our representatives in Congress get top-of-the-line medical care paid for by the taxpayers. These are the same people who, year after year, vote to increase their salaries while millions of Americans lose their jobs," said Shahinfar. Last year, the average representative's taxpayer-financed salary was $169,300.
"As millions of Americans dig deeper into their pockets to make ends meet, I cannot, in good conscience, take more money out of their pockets for my own healthcare until an affordable healthcare plan that covers everyone is created," said Shahinfar. "Members of Congress need to start living like the rest of us and pay their own way."
"With an affordable system of coverage, we can give health care to the 25 million underinsured and 47 million uninsured Americans and reduce the burden placed on property taxpayers, seniors and our families. If we want to change Washington, we need to start by changing the type of people we send there," concluded Shahinfar.
As he was unable to attend the big health care debate, Shahinfar had much of the same statement read for him instead. Since he was not there.
The Steck campaign made the debut of their first television advertisement the big even of the week, hosting a house party to preview the commercial at campaign headquarters. In a message sent out to supporters, Phil Steck added these comments to introduce his first spot:
This year’s Presidential contest has turned into a clear battle between whether we should maintain the status quo in Washington or should we fight for dramatic change.
In this race for Congress, I believe that the people in the 21st congressional district have a clear choice.
Other candidates continue to take big money from lobbyists and PACs even though Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have rejected this money. These other candidates talk about "change." By taking money from these powerful interests while our national Democratic leaders reject it, these candidates are telling us that they’ll be part of the same old political system.
I decided to run for Congress because I believe that Washington is broken. Lobbyists and powerful special interests are in control. We live in the richest country on this planet, yet 47 million people are without healthcare. Average Americans are struggling because wages are stagnant while the cost of necessities like gas and food escalate, yet Big Oil companies are posting record profits. We continue to be stuck in a war without end, even though the people of this country overwhelmingly have called on the President to bring the troops home.
As a civil rights and labor attorney, I have spent my career fighting for people whose voices aren’t heard. I have helped them to fight back, speak up, and restore their dignity. It hasn’t been easy work, but it has always been meaningful work.
We can change Washington if we elect Barack Obama President, and elect a Congress that will join him in shaking up the status quo that has killed any real progress during the last 8 years.
My campaign for Congress is about putting the interests of the people ahead of the lobbyists, insiders, and dealmakers.
I am very pleased to share with you a preview of our first television ad, which highlights my commitment to changing Washington by taking on lobbyists and powerful special interests that have taken control of our government.
Thank you for your support for our campaign! Let’s change Washington together.
The big news out of the Tonko camp was the release of his energy plan. He recieved the endorsement of a Congressman himself at the media event where he announced the plan on Thursday:
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) joined Tonko this morning in calling for a national plan to boost funding for renewable energy while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey said: "Paul Tonko's background as an engineer and his experience on energy issues in the New York State Assembly are what we need in Congress. I worked with Paul for many years in the Assembly and I'm aware of the high quality work he can do. My colleagues and I will be very happy to have Paul Tonko as a member of Congress to do the work we need to do in Washington."
Like Tracey Brooks, Paul Tonko also recieved endorsements from the labor camp as well this week, boasting two big endorsements to her one:
AFSCME / CSEA ANNOUNCE ENDORSEMENT OF PAUL TONKO
New York's largest public service union today announced the endorsement of Democrat Paul Tonko in the race to succeed retiring Congressman Michael McNulty.
At a news conference this morning in Schenectady, The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced their endorsement of Tonko for the seat in the 21st Congressional District. The 21st District covers all or part of Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties.
AFSCME is New York's largest public service union with over 420,000 members from six affiliates including CSEA / AFSCME Local 1000, District Council 37, District Council 1707, District Council 66, AFSCME Council 82, and AFSCME Council 35. AFSCME represents workers in every city, county, town, village and school district in New York State.
"I am honored to receive this endorsement from friends who have supported me so much over the years." said Paul Tonko. "The working men and women of AFSCME form the backbone of public service here in the Capital Region and across all of New York. As a member of Congress, I will look forward to continuing our partnership to solve the issues crucial to the working people of the 21st District."
The entire press release includes statements in support of Paul Tonko from James Lyman, President of the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union, Council 82, AFSCME; Mary Sullivan, Executive Vice President of CSEA/AFSCME Local 1000; Kathy Garrison, CSEA Region 4 President; and CSEA/AFSCME Local 1000 President Danny Donohue. Later in the week, Tonko also earned the support of the Letter Carriers union:
Paul Tonko, Democratic candidate for Congress in New York's 21st District, announced today that he's been endorsed by the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 358 Northeastern New York.
Branch 358 represents letter carriers in all seven of the counties that encompass the 21st District.
"Paul Tonko recognizes the value of the public service provided by letter carriers who work for the United States Postal Service," said Branch 358 President William B. Cook. "Over the course of his public life, Paul Tonko has stood up for and protected the interests of working families."
Paul Tonko said: "I appreciate the support of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 358, Northeastern New York. The members and I share a common bond – we take immense pride in getting to know the people we serve. I look forward to continuing our partnership fighting for the issues important to working people."
In addition to these big endorsements, Tonko also embellished his energy plan for the first time in relation to the role of oil speculators driving up high gas prices:
TONKO: FERC NEEDS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS IN WAKE OF ELECTRICITY TRADING SCANDAL
TONKO DEMANDS CONSUMERS RECEIVE REFUNDS
Paul Tonko, Democratic candidate for the New York's 21st District, is calling for New York utility companies to reimburse consumers in response to news that energy traders may have scammed them of at least $250 million.
From January to July of this year, energy traders schemed to save money by re-routing electricity they were selling from upstate New York to Pennsylvania. The end result was an artificial increase in energy costs that stuck consumers with high electric bills.
"On the fifth anniversary of the 2003 Northeast blackout, I call on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to protect consumers by increasing its oversight of New York's energy market," said Tonko. "As the Chairman of the New York State Assembly's Standing Committee on Energy, I fought to reverse the deregulation program of the mid-1990's out of concern that this kind of market manipulation would hurt consumers and lead to supply problems. I join New York Senator Chuck Schumer and others in demanding that FERC investigate this scheme, find out who is responsible and determine whether any laws were broken. I also call on New York's Utility Companies to reimburse consumers, who were ultimately victimized here," said Tonko.
The state deregulation of the electric industry in the 1990's circumvented the legislature. As a State Assemblyman, Paul Tonko called on FERC to increase it's oversight of New York's energy market in his 2002 report on entitled "New York's Perfect Storm," in a 2006 letter to FERC, and in testimony before Congress in 2007.
"As part of my comprehensive energy plan, I will introduce legislation in Congress that will protect New York's energy consumers from the market manipulation that is artificially driving up electricity prices," Tonko added.
All said and done worked up to a very busy week for the Tonko campaign, effectively disproving earlier criticisms alleging a disorganized camp. Last week Phil Steck lead the candidates in positions on Iran, and in weeks past Brooks and Shahinfar have illicited similar call-and-response activity. This was the first week Tonko had such an effect on the campaign, and he set it off on what is his number one issue in which he claims the greatest amount of experience.
Joseph Sullivan, by referring to himself first as the Lone Ranger and now as "DEMOGUY!" made appearances at both debates that proved himself to not be a very serious candidate for the office. Agree or disagree with me on that assessment that Sullivan is neither ready for prime-time or anywhere close to a progressive Democrat based on his only press release below relating to his insulting performance at the Islamic Center debate:
DEMOGUY WENT TO THE MOSQUE. WHAT HAPPENED?
A REPORT YOU WILL NEVER SEE OR HEAR IN THE MEDIA
Joseph P Sullivan , of Albany, Democratic candidate for Congress
21st District, went to the Islamic Center of the Capital District
Mosque, Colonie, to meet with local Muslims, Saturday evening.
Media coverage of the event was non-existent, or superficial.
Why? Hey, it was Saturday evening. Furthermore, the media is
not serious about campaign reform. Campaign coverage is
driven by cash. Candidates must pay to play. No cash no
So, what happened at the Mosque?
Turnout was good. Dr. Husain and the organizers of the forum
were hospitable and fair, although a number of the audience
All the Democratic candidates for the 21st Congressional District
were present. Brooks, Darius, Tonko and Steck pandered and
groveled to the audience, Demoguy (Joe Sullivan) did not,.
Some in the audience complained of not feeling accepted in
An Imam, complained of racial profiling of Muslims at airports* People profile themselves by their behavior. When Muslims
and in other circumstances. He called upon the 5 Democrats to
pledge, if elected, to end racial profiling. Darius immediately
Jumped to his feet and took the pledge. Brooks, Tonko and Steck
nodded their agreement. Demoguy (Sullivan) refused.
Sullivan was called "Redneck" by a number of the audience.
Redneck was a slur used to disparage poor southern whites
of Irish and Scots-Irish origins. Sullivan said: Thank God for
Rednecks who fight and die for America.
Sullivan made the following points:
do not speak out and condemn terrorism and terrorist behavior
their silence is interpreted as condoning that behavior. * The Muslims did not have an American flag and did not recite
the Pledge of Allegiance at the forum. Some in the audience
argued that the Mosque is a religious place that need not
display a flag. Sullivan replied that the Mosque is in America
and this was a political forum for candidates for the Congress
of the United States of America. * As the call to evening prayers began, Sullivan made the closing
comments saying: I detected much hostility and anger among the
audience tonight. Welcome to America. Do not be part of the
problem...be part of the solution. Love America.
As you go to your evening prayers...pray for yourselves, pray
for us candidates, and pray for America.
Well, I'm covering it here because I cover everything here, even the candidates that are complete jokes. As always, Sullivan provided a comical note on which to end another edition of our weekly State of the Race, and I believe he deserves the new campaign logo I've had fun designing for him above. One thing is for ceratain: after the primary on September 9th, we progressive Democrats will have a nominee for Congress that has campaigned towards us. And it will be a relief to stop hearing from Mr. Sullivan. Stay tuned for next week's wrap-up...the pace is only going to increase as the most competitive Democratic primary for Congress in New York State approaches its final weeks.