First of all, congratulation to John Liu for becoming the first Chinese-American to be elected to city-wide office in New York City. That's a huge slap on the face for the New York Democratic Party establishment; an establishment that's never been too keen on grassroots movements unless they can co-opt to solidify their status-quo.
The other big grassroots story of the night was Bill de Blasio. He walloped Mark Green, one of the darlings of the New York political elite, in a run-off election and breezed into the Political Advocate's office with 76.9% of the vote.
For a political establishment that doesn't suppor grassroots movements unless it's ready to line their pockets --remember of all the so-called grassroots progressives and Democrats defecting to the Bloomberg campaign?-- these two wins are a wake-up call for the NY Dems political establishment.
Well have to see how these two fare for or against the status quo in the next four years.
1. Obama is not the Democratic Party.
Virginia is the best example of this phenomenon: Even though Obama carried the state, voters repudiated the slim pickings pushed on them by the local Democratic party. Creigh Deeds, the genius Democrat who lost the election, ran as an anti-Obama Democrat. In a state that Obama basically swept during the general elections. WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY IS THAT? Oh right, the strategy of a Democrat who rightfully doesn't look at Obama as representing him.
The biggest mistake for the Democratic Party was to sucker themselves into thinking that whatever genius political strategy Plouffe and Axelrod were able to use in getting Obama elected was going to absolve them of their state and local sins of nepotism, cronyism, corruption but most importantly utter ineptitude.
Last night was a big wake-up call for Democrats who think they'll be able to coast on the coattails of Obama for the next 3-7 years.
Which takes me to the big story of the day: Bill Owens will for New York's Congressional District #23. What's the moral of that story?
2. Carpetbaggers better not fuck with upstaters.
The sleepy corner of upper New York state became an ideological battle ground for the extreme right of the Republican party with a non-Palin-looking Dede Scozzafava being muscled out of the election by the GlennBeckian non-resident of the district Hoffman. Yet in the process of eating their own, out-of-state extremists revealed the awful truth about the New York State Democratic Party: They suck.
Democrats in New York state are rarely differentiated from their Republican counterparts. Abortion is not one a political lightning rod for New York politicians. On the contrary, NYC boasts a rather disturbing amount of African American and Latino right-to-lifers on their rolls. What separates Republicans from Democrats is the amount of money their willing to put at the feet of the political establishment in both Albany and Washington DC.
NY23 happened to be one of those districts that NY Dems didn't look as particularly profitable for them until the teabaggers came into town. And that's basically their modus operandi: Many districts in the state are marked as losses from the get go. NY23 proved what a dangerous strategy that is --especially in a year when one more Democrat in Congress could make a huge difference in Health Care and Immigration legislation.
The challenge for true progressives in New York state will be to not only get rid of anti-gay, misogynist, immigrant hating Republicans. The challenge will be to find progressives to run against Democrats Democrats with similar political views, from local all the way up to Congressional, regardless of whether it is a "red district" or not.
3. Michael Turk put it best, Can we now agree that 2008 was a referendum on Bush and GOP arrogance, and not a vote for radical liberalism?
This bears repeating over and over and over again. Obama wasn't a choice for radical liberalism. Obama wasn't even a choice for the Democratic Party. Obama didn't even win because he was a centrist. Obama won because he successfully sold himself as an outsider from the political establishment who had a vision of a United States that could be better without partisan politics.
In other words: Obama won because he was the ANTI-IDEOLOGICAL, ANTI-PARTISAN candidate. He didn't win because people believed he could change the swamp of Capitol Hill or the rats' nest of the Democratic Party. He won because he not only wasn't part of the swamp or the rats but because he aspired to transcend all of that with his presidency.
Michael Turk's comment was directed to Republicans but you might as well use it to bash into the heads of Democrats why they can't rest on Obama's laurels. 90% of the Democrat Party do not represent "Change We Can Believe In" and that's what got played out in all of lat night's electoral losses.
4. All the money int he world is not going to win you a mandate
The race was called in favor of Bloomberg when he was winning by 3%. He ended up tallying a 4.58% win. That means that the Boss Bloomberg plunked down $21,834,061.1 per each point in his margin of win. That's an obscene amount of bribe money; yet it proves that had New York City a true political grassroots movement represented in the Democratic Party, Thompson would have squeaked in a victory.
5. New York City is ready for a grassroots renaissance
Thompson didn't win because he was one of the ultimate insiders just like his losing predecessor, Freddy Ferrer. It's not just that Freddy was Puerto Rican and Bill was black. It was really the fact that these two have been part of the political establishment of New York City for far too long. Every single Democratic mayoral loser since Dinkins has been part of the party establishment.
Yet look at the massive margins that got both de Blasio and Liu elected. If any of these two guys want to become mayor the lesson is very simple: FIGHT MICHAEL BLOOMBERG FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS.
You can't raise $100 million to buy yourself the local and national media? Fine. Then fight the man every single step of the way for the next 4 years. Govern like you were still campaigning. Amass grassroots support and boost the numbers of your independent allies. Most importantly though, KEEP YOUR FACE IN THE LOCAL MEDIA. That means every single week, every single month, you gotta get yourself out there in front of the cameras, on the newspapers and most importantly on the blogs to move your message over and over and over again.
Michael Bloomberg doesn't have a mandate. Liu, de Blasio and every single Democrat who wants to become the next mayor needs to keep the campaign going until 2013.
Which gets me to my favorite peeve: read more »
Last night was the first of three Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) endorsement meetings. It was a full house and a late night. Personally I was mostly in the back with Jacob, talking to Rock Hackshaw, Norm Siegel and their respective campaign people. So I don't have as many personal observations, but I can combine my limited observations, my wife's obsevations, the candidate questionaires the club received, and the final outcomes. You can find the candiadte answers to the club's questionaire on the CBID website.
The short story is that CBID as a club has basically gone through the same calculations I have personally gone through on these three races. read more »
A tad belatedly, here is John Liu's announcement for his run for Comptroller, the position I always thought he should run for and urged him to run for when he came to talk to Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. Glad he listened to me
Visit John's website and check him out. To me he is by far the best candidate in the race. Only John Liu and David Weprin have any relevant experience for the job of Comptroller, and Weprin seems far more conservative than Liu.
"Work? Work is my mother working 16 hours a day in a sweatshop, and my father working in a restaurant all day every day," he said. What I have to do - going to campaign events, meeting people and shaking hands, talking issues with journalists, this is fun.
I recently wrote about (based on a good analysis from True News from Change NYC) how lawyer and developer money is dominating the NYC Comptroller's race. As background I will also refer you to the corrupt sweetheart deals developers routinely get in NYC. Basically, when I wrote that earlier article the Comptroller's race looked pretty lousy with Melinda "Developer's Quisling" Katz, David "Weasel" Yassky, and David Weprin who I don't know well enough to give the kind of nickname I hear from a new State Senator that I have become known for. Weprin had been my choice by default because he a.) wasn't such a clear developer shill as Katz, b.) hadn't supported the Bloomberg Putch like Weasel Yassky, and c.) actually had considerable experience in regulation of banking and financial industries. read more »