Saturday, May 04, 2013

New York GOP: Cruzin' For A Bruisin'


I know that the New York State Republican Party had a golden age... but it wasn't during the 20 years I lived in New York-- nor in the decades since. Currently there isn't one statewide Republican elected official-- nor has there been one since George Pataki. Last month, NY blogger Morgan Pehme summed up the party's dilemma pretty well.
Election Day in 2012 was one of the bleakest in the history of the New York State Republican Party.

Propelled by an Obama landslide in New York—the president’s best showing in any state except Vermont and Hawaii-- the Democrats trounced their opposition all the way down the ballot.

Kirsten Gillibrand, once considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the U.S. Senate, amassed a startling 72 percent of the vote, the highest percent total of any statewide candidate in New York history. At the same time, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, a Tea Party darling, was drummed out of office, Rep. Nan Hayworth was defeated in a stunner, and Rep. Tom Reed, who was expected to cruise to re-election, only narrowly staved off a strong challenge from his previously unknown opponent.

In the state Legislature, the story was just as dreary. Despite the Vito Lopez scandal that had wounded Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Democrats rolled to victory in the lower chamber, regaining the “veto-proof” supermajority they had lost in 2010. And in the Senate, long the lone bright spot statewide for the GOP, the Republicans lost their pure majority, watching much ballyhooed candidates like Sean Hanna and Bob Cohen go down in flames, and even, after a razor-thin recount, George Amedore, for whom the party had gerrymandered the newly created 63rd Senate seat specifically for him to win.

In the devastating aftermath, a host of political observers declared the state Republican Party dead-- or at least on life support.

As Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio put it to the Daily News, “It is not extinct, but it is comatose.”

Beyond the results of Election Day, there was-- and continues to be-- ample reason to draw this conclusion. With the party suffering from a registration deficit statewide that has grown to a gaping 2.5-to-1 in favor of the Democrats, the last time the Republican nominee for president prevailed in New York was 1984, when Ronald Reagan swept every state in the union save for Walter Mondale’s home turf of Minnesota.

...In many ways, things have never looked worse for the state Republican Party-- once a breeding ground for giants like Teddy Roosevelt, Fiorello La Guardia, Thomas Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits.

“We have hit rock bottom,” laments New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich, one of the Republican Party’s promising state Senate candidates who went down to defeat in 2012. “The only place we can go is up.”
Actually not. The state party, according to the conservative NY Daily News could sink New York's Republican Party. Short version: their guest of honor to the annual party dinner is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Two choices are offered to New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox: Cancel plans to have Texas Sen. Ted Cruz headline the party’s annual dinner or speed the GOP’s long demise in the state. In featuring Cruz as the prime speaker at the May 29 affair, Cox has entered a death embrace with New York’s political Public Enemy No. 1 of the moment.

Cruz represents the unthinking, doctrinaire strain of conservatism that doomed Mitt Romney’s electoral chances, such as they were, and threatened to alienate Republicans from key voting blocs, including Cruz’s fellow Hispanics.

He will be toxic to any hope that New York’s GOP might regain even slight relevance.

In the wake of the Newtown massacre, Cruz threatened to filibuster any and all reasonable gun control measures, up to and including background checks for purchases at gun shows.

With breathtaking callousness, he called the families of Newtown victims-- those mothers and fathers wrenched with pain-- “political props” for the Obama administration because many of them had stepped up to petition Congress for legislation aimed at stemming gun violence.

After superstorm Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey, Cruz voted against federal recovery funding, calling the urgently needed aid package “wasteful.”

This was typical of the GOP response, which prompted Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King to scream that his fellow legislators were “more and more taking on this anti-Northeast attitude.”

King followed up Tuesday, saying of Cruz: “He went out of his way to attack New York on the bill. It’s a little early to forgive and forget.”

King continued: “There were really false and phony charges made against the Sandy aid, and if Ted Cruz had prevailed, my constituents would be homeless.”

Extra bonus for hypocrisy-- after that fertilizer plant explosion leveled much of West, Tex., Cruz had the gall to demand that the federal government devote “all available resources” to help the stricken area.

Now, he is fighting to sink the bipartisan immigration reform plan that’s searching for support in Congress; he wants a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants to be “taken off the table.”

Let’s review the vital stats of the state party as led by Cox.

Having hemorrhaged clout for years, the GOP holds not a single statewide office.

Its last foothold in Albany-- control of the state Senate-- hangs by the slender thread of alliances with renegade Democrats.

More embarrassing still, two ranking Republican officials in the city have been indicted on charges of trying to rig the mayoral primary-- diminishing the party’s shot at winning City Hall.

Whether this Tea Partyer-in-chief will sell many tickets to Cox’s $1,000-a-plate dinner ($5,000 for a photo opportunity) at the Grand Hyatt remains to be seen. But scrounging to fill the organization’s depleted coffers will come at the price of branding the party and its candidates as pariahs.

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