New York Senate Race Will Be Gillibrand v Tasini-- Maloney Bows Out
NY Dems will have a clear choice
Mel Martinez' announcement that he's resigning his seat by the end of the month isn't the only Senate news today. The New York State senate race will now pit appointed incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand, an Establishment-oriented pragmatist, against a true believer in the Paul Wellstone tradition, Jonathan Tasini.
A few months ago when I spoke with progressive activist Tasini, he told me that one of the reasons he had declared is because he felt Blue Dog Kirsten Gillibrand had to have a progressive opponent-- that it was part of a healthy, robust democracy-- and that he didn't feel certain that Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who he likes, would actually go through with it. His instincts were correct; she's withdrawing from the race.
“Running for the Senate is a full-time job,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “Giving up for a critical period of time the things I do best-- passing legislation, working on the issues, serving New Yorkers-- would put politics before policy. The right decision for me and the people I represent is to stay in the House of Representatives.”
Or maybe she just felt so much pressure from the political Establishment to stop rocking the boat and felt she couldn't win and would wind up without a job that she just decided to give up. Gillibrand really has been moving towards more progressive positions across the board, which would have made it difficult for Maloney to effectively attack her without causing real problems in the NY Democratic Party.
Notice the NY Times article linked above doesn't even mention Tasini. Neither does the article in The Hill.
Jonathan is appalled that anyone calling himself or herself a progressive would even contemplate shutting down the democratic process by discouraging primaries the way Biden, Rendell, Schumer and Emanuel are in Pennsylvania and New York. He wants to see the primary as a contest of ideas that will help define what the Democratic Party will look like in the state and nationally. He points out that Kirsten Gillibrand has never stood before the voters and has the seat because of the vote of one person, an accidental governor. "This should not be a coronation or a selection like a monarchy. Voters should have the choice to pick who they want to represent them."
Beyond the process, though, people want to know what precisely Jonathan stands for that differentiates him from Kristen. Since being appointed to the Senate, she's virtually disowned the Blue Dog persona that she had adopted in the House. Her Senate voting record is very progressive, among the top 20.
We have a very dramatic different set of values and principles. If you look at my life and history over the last 25 years I've done nothing but work for economic justice-- for the labor movement, for the rights of workers. At the same time, my opponent was a corporate lawyer who represented the tobacco industry and has been very closely allied with the National Rifle Association. She had very different positions when she ran in 2006 for her House seat on immigration. I'm a long time advocate of single payer health care and that isn't something Kristen Gillibrand supports... In some way, I’m reminded of the time when Howard Dean challenged our party, asking why we were not standing up to George W. Bush and the obscenity of the Iraq War. Now, we have a president who truly stands for something. And I am running both to support our president and push him to move our country in an even more progressive direction. To some extent, the vision, then, is much broader than the issue of who I’m running against. I want our party to stand:
· for single-payer health care,
· for a different foreign policy
· for the right to belong to a union,
· for marriage equality
And these are values and principles I’ve stood for my entire life, not values and principles recently discovered in order to run for Senator. These values and principles are who I am.
Oh, and about that "choice" thing under the caption, will anyone even know Tasini is running... and why? Gillibrand currently has $3,234,105 (cash on hand) and Tasini having raised $275,019, has $25,746 in his campaign coffers.