Once again: the State Senate is key.
Iâ€™m a little puzzled at the news, blogged by Paul earlier today, that governor-elect Spitzer has plucked a Long Island republican Senator from that partyâ€™s ranks to fill a security portfolio. Yes, as Paul notes, itâ€™s not a good idea, either politically or with a reference to common sense, to seem to underwrite the republican claim to competence on security. That claim, in my opinion, should be greeted with the same healthy skepticism extended to claims of virginity emanating from Hollywood, or claims of heterosexuality coming from Broadway. In short, not entirely unheard of, but atypical enough to warrant notice. That said, more for the purpose of gratuitously denigrating the other party than for any other reason, Balboni comes well recommended. I also believe that, as we enter a period of Democratic hegemony that could last a generation, it will serve us well to give even republicans a stake in the government we lead.
What bothers me is the political angle. Yes, Democrats have a good chance to win this district with his departure, since we have a registration advantage. No, this is not how we should aspire to take that chamber. We shouldnâ€™t be taking the easy way out.
Thereâ€™s been a good deal of grumbling about wasted chances for retaking the state Senate in the 2006 cycle, and I do not dissociate myself from those doing the grumbling; however, as they say, water under the bridge and all that. But whatever the case may be, in the six-year-strategy devised by Senate Democrats, 2008 is the year of decision. Balboniâ€™s elevation could make the task easier. What Iâ€™m sincerely hoping is that this unexpected stroke of good fortune does not tempt our guys into thinking that similar shortcuts will ease their way into control of the chamber. Thatâ€™s not going to be enough; not to mention, of course, that it hardly seems small-d democratic. I fully expect Joe Bruno â€“ or whomever will be in charge on the other side â€“ to play hardball in the upcoming season, because once the Senate falls, the republican party in New York will be dead. For example, I am prepared to bet dollars to donuts that some of the more elderly members of the caucus will be retiring soon, to be replaced in low-turnout special elections by young, strapping fresh faces, to mix metaphors. Are the Democrats prepared for a scenario like this?
Retaking the state Senate is going to be a tough slog. The Democrats had better be doing their homework.